Aspects of Love

“The look and sound of this production are what makes it for me”

What to make of this revival of Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s, Don Black’s and Charles Hart’s Aspects of Love? This was my first time seeing the show. 

Essentially, it’s a beautifully scored sung through musical with a pretty dodgy plot! It’s based on David Garnett’s 1955 novella of the same name, first performed in 1989, then starring the young Michael Ball in one of his early breakout roles, as Alex, the young romantic lead. Ball now goes full circle, returning as Alex’s Uncle George. 

Frankly the main characters, Alex, his uncle George and Rose, both men’s love interest, are all fairly toxic characters, in an equally toxic situation. Add to that the fourth main character, sculptor Giulietta, George’s mistress, and also Jenny, George and Rose’s daughter, and you have an increasingly complex and, frankly, ‘icky’ situation. Its plot had led to many questioning why the need for a revival, in spite of some plot revisions. The answer is that the score is at times one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s finest. 

So the plot and premise is the big negative here. But what of the positives? And for me, a theatre lover, there are many. 

First of all, as many who know me will testify, I am a bit of a fan of Michael Ball. I have seen him in many shows and concerts over the past 30 plus years…so arguably I might be a bit biased! But being as neutral as I can be, I have to say I really enjoyed his portrayal of Uncle George.  He played the role as sympathetically as the plot allowed. I’ve seen Michael sing his big hit Love Changes Everything so many times over the decades, but his version in act 1 was sung so beautifully, in a much more understated way, that it was refreshing.  It does seem that giving this song to George to sing with his experience in love and life, makes more sense than having Alex sing it in previous incarnations.  I really enjoyed seeing a different Michael to Edna or Javert, and he underlined for me why he is such a successful performer. 

The set and scenery was also for me, a big positive. I thought it was really clever and effective, and I loved the elegant design of the production by John Macfarlane. Jonathan Kent’s direction was also very clever, and the circus and funeral scenes for me, worked especially well.

I’ve already said that the score is beautiful. So it’s really great to hear it played by a 14 piece orchestra under Cat Beveridge’s direction, and to catch glimpses of them throughout the show on the stage. The wall of sound was at times simply stunning, and the refrains from both Love Changes Everything and Seeing is Believing, particularly the latter, have been constant ear worms for me since seeing the show!

Jamie Bogyo, I saw in Moulin Rouge, and here as Alex I felt he had matured, and gave a more rounded performance. Vocally, his voice is clear and strong, but his acting was also very effective as Alex. 

For me, the ladies have it…Laura Pitt-Pulford as Rose and opera singer Danielle De Niese as Giulietta both gave exceptional performances. Laura in particular played Rose increasingly narcissistic, but both sung and acted the parts so well it was hard to take your eyes off them when they were on stage.

The entire cast perform this brilliantly, and all four leads as well as Anna Unwin as Jenny are superb. The look and sound of this production are what makes it for me. This is not a light-hearted musical, far from it, but I did enjoy it, and can recommend it for the look of the show, the performances and that beautiful score!

This show was reviewed on the 25th May 2023.  Aspects of Love runs at the Lyric Theatre until the 11th November 2023.  Tickets available here: Aspects of Love • Lyric Theatre • Official Website

Review written by Ruth Hawkins

Photo credit: Johan Persson

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