We need to talk about assisted suicide and the right to die when our lives reach a point, that the quality of our lived experience begins to deteriorate past a point of no return. If this is a difficult conversation to be had, then so be it. Or perhaps, let art fill this space and from here, let something else blossom. Lovesong, the latest from Red Stitch, has exactly this conversation, it details the beginning and end of a relationship between two people, the height of romance verses the dull, perhaps repetitive nature of a life lived together and of codependency in twilight years. It is a bitter sweet narrative that in every way in-captures a deep resonance, and is successful at pulling on our heart strings; by the end of this experience, there is not a dry eye in the house.
The performance begins, and continues to be underscored by a Cellist, Campbell Banks, adding a live element as emotive as this – a clever touch. The interconnectedness between the two narratives perfectly portrayed by the ensemble; Jillian Murray in the role of Maggie, at times, releases some guttural sounds, and in these moments, brings us within an uncomfortable proximity to her character’s physical exhaustion and pain.
As the two younger lovers, Maddy Jevic and Dylan Watson are perfectly cast. The audience are at once, wrapped up in the intimacy of their relation. Written by Abi Morgan, it would be hard to find a work presented this year, as raw and and as beautiful as this one. Director Denny Lawrence has further elevated this work and, as with the the whole production, his input seems to share an affinity with its subject material.
For a work which is so powerful, perhaps the only detraction, as a whole, is the set design which borders on being a little too literal; it would have been amazing for a more abstract approach to be taken to the visual aesthetic – lighting needs a little more attention and for some transitions to be further ironed out. In saying this, these are only very minor criticisms.
Theatre which is so much of the now, and which picks up on contentious subjects such as euthanasia, are worthy of our support. More than those mute adaption of classics that seemingly keep being churned out this year, Bell Shakespeare and Julius Caesar or Little Ones Theatre with The Nightingale and The Rose, here come to mind. Red Stitch, continue to be ‘the little theatre that could’ with their continued support and presentation of new Australian work in 2018 continuing to be a beacon of light among an otherwise dull year of theatre and performance in Melbourne.
Lovesong, being so intelligent, respectful and beautifully executed, again proves this company’s worth and more so, that it only takes a little imagination for something big to emerge from the small.