Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Six Acts of Love @ Tron, 2008

Andy Arnold continues to move and care at the Tron.

Six Acts of Love has a strong script, searching characterisation and a simple, yet effective staging. Andy Arnold’s direction is swift and terse, while Ioanna Anderson’s script features a sharp eye for realism and bursts of banter. Entertaining and precise, the plot is slightly forced towards to end – no doubt to ensure appropriate dramatic closure and allow the correct number of resonant scenes – it studies the challenges of aging from different angles, ultimately offering the sort of hope that only ever happens in fiction.

Katherine (Barbara Wilshere), a newly separated middle-aged woman, finds herself caring for her senile mother, and reflects on the ravages of time and trauma. In a plot that lurches from staged incident to quiet reflections, Katherine gradually comes to a deeper understanding of herself, discovers hope and finally love.

All of the performances are strong and capable - Una McLean captures something of the despair and humour of dementia, and Benny Young somehow brings a dignity to the role of the abandoning husband. The compassion that Anderson’s script offers to each character is moving and brave. There are no villains, only individuals trying to deal with circumstance. It is unfortunate that the narrative feels so forced that it undermines the passionate reunion of the final act of love.

Well acted, engaging ideas, a steady pace: Six Acts of Love is enjoyable and edges towards profound, relevant meditations on love, age and survival. Where it draws conclusions, it is predictable, and there is a sense that the characters are deliberately being given turns in the spot-light, rather than developing together. Not sensational but kind, Six Acts of Love has a tentative hope that would be more credible if the plot was not so jerky.

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