Putting the play’s troubled plot to one side for now, there’s plenty to trumpet about director Jonathan Kent’s revival, first and foremost its cast. In the roles of the starving actress Rose and starstruck boy Alex Dillingham, who convinces her to elope to his uncle’s villa in Pau, are a pitch-perfect Laura Pitt-Pulford and rising star Jamie Bogyo, who made his professional debut a mere 18 months ago playing Christian in the original West End cast of Moulin Rouge! The Musical. Here, Bogyo masters Lloyd Webber’s operatic and musically complicated score, infusing Don Black and Charles Hart’s lyrics with appropriate levels of lust and bitterness. It's a performance that cements the recent grad as one of the most exciting talents working in musical theatre today.
Laura Pitt-Pulford (Rose) and Jamie Bogyo (Alex) in Aspects of Love. Photo: Johan Persson
Opera star Danielle de Niese (It’s a Wonderful Life) is underused but magnetic in her shining moments as Giulietta Trapani, the Italian sculptor and mistress of Sir George Dillingham. But the star billing here belongs to musical theatre legend Michael Ball, who plays the self-assured Sir George, but takes the musical’s transcending song Love Changes Everything, which he originally performed as Alex in the 1989 cast, with him. For those who know their musical theatre, hearing Ball warble the song live will be a momentous occasion, even if his performance of it is gently understated.
Danielle de Niese (Giulietta) and Michael Ball (George). Photo: Johan Persson
De Niese isn’t the only talent borrowed from the opera world. John Macfarlane, who has spent the majority of his noteworthy career designing operas and ballets, makes his West End debut here, visualising the story’s leafy forests and rolling hills with backdrops that appear like lavish oil paintings. Lending the design a modern edge is video and projection maestro Douglas O’Connell, who ushers us through the cobbled back streets of Paris, into theatre auditoriums and along sun-dappled vineyards. His projections also work in tandem with Macfarlane’s static designs, bulking out trees with some wind-rustled leaves.
There’s a cinematic quality to Kent’s production too, which boxes moments into frames as if they’re a frozen memory. Jon Clark’s lighting furthers this idea, thrusting spotlights onto pockets of the stage while shadowing the rest in darkness – a reminder, perhaps, of the unreliable and biased nature of memory.
The Aspects of Love Company. Photo: Johan Persson
Between the polished staging, worthy performances, and wise songs musing on the inconsistencies, insecurities and complexities of love, there’s plenty to enjoy here. All this is overshadowed by the show’s age-inappropriate incest though, which will leave many feeling queasy.
|What||Aspects of Love, Lyric Theatre review|
|Where||Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 7ES | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Piccadilly Circus (underground)|
12 May 23 – 11 Nov 23, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Website||Click here for more information and to book|