Friday, September 17, 2010

'Aspects of Love' Romances at the Menier Chocolate Factory - The Review

With ‘Aspects of Love’ combined with ‘Love Never Dies’ the result in one word is “purpose’. As discussed in one of my first posts no trip is ever completed until you have completed a purpose big or small. It’s the goal or reason for your travels. I have listened to the 1989 London recording many times and after 20 years, I have been longing but never had the opportunity to see a production of ‘Aspects’. This was finally it. At the Menier Chocolate Factory, the 20 year wait and the 7,500 miles to London was worth it.

Based on David Garnett’s novel of the same name, the musical tells the story of passion, love and loss across three generations of a family and their companions set against the backdrop of 1940’s France and Italy. Alex Dillingham (Michael Arden), a young student travelling through France, falls in love with the alluring actress Rose Vibert (Katherine Kingsley). As the pair embark on a passionate affair, the unexpected arrival of Alex’s Uncle George (David Willetts) changes their lives forever. It's a love story spanning twenty years binding six people and three generations.

Each member of the small ensemble was well cast. American actor Michael Arden breathes life into the role of Alex. His voice is a deeper tenor and he sings beautifully. With Arden’s handsome portrayal you see Alex grow from infatuated youth to mature soldier.

The cast of actors have to be some of the bravest ever to take a stage. The performing space is rather tight that some scenes take place just inches from the first row of the audience. That would intimidate a lot of actors. But not once did they break character.

Katherine Kingsley has the difficult task of embodying Rose. She must convey many sides of a character that can appear acrid and selfish but Kingsley still manages to earn our sympathy by the end of the play. She is beautiful in every scene and employs an exquisite French accent. Her final number “Anything But Lonely” becomes a powerful, moving and defiant ballad.

With over thirty scenes, this production design utilizes one set that evokes both indoors and outdoors as well as settings from a theatre to a French villa to a Venice art studio. Projections on a center screen helps to evoke the time and place. The backdrop with built-in blank windows, doors, picture frames and bookcases are infused with lights to make all or part of this set stand out add in each particular scene.

This is one of Lloyd Webber's most intimate musicals and is sung throughout. The music is captivating and lush. I was pulled into the world of these characters and if love changes everything, all have been changed by their various relationships for the rest of their lives.

Elegantly performed, sung, designed and produced. This version of ‘Aspects’ deserves a life beyond this one. 
All photos used for illustration purposes only.

  • Where:  Menier Chocolate Factory (Tube: London Bridge)
  • When:  Tue-Sat 8pm; Sat & Sun 3:30pm
  • Running Time:  2 hrs 40 min
  • Ticket Prices:  all seats £32
  • Opening:  Jul 15, 2010 (previews from Jul 7, 2010)
  • Closing:  Sep 26, 2010
  • Cast Recording:  Unavailable.  The remastered 1989 Original London Cast is available.


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