Review: Aspects of Love
Love changes everything…
If there’s nothing else you remember from Aspects of Love it’s Love Changes Everything – the song and the sentiment. The whole plot hinges on the aspects of love that comprise different relationships.
Based on the David Garnett novella about the relationships that swirled around him in the 1920s and 1930s in the Bloomsbury set which involved Vanessa Bell (sister of Virginia Woolf) and Clive Bell, Duncan Grant and David Garnett with Duncan and Vanessa’s daughter Angelica, who eventually married David (who had previously been a lover of Duncan). The synopsis of the musical was slightly less convoluted – and somewhat sanitised but the aspects of love remain much the same but with names changed.
David Garnett released his novella in 1955; the musical was first staged in 1989. Andrew Lloyd Webber initially worked with Tim Rice to write a few songs for a film version of the book – and it was not until later that it became a serious consideration for Webber to write a musical. At that point he called upon Don Black and Charles Hart for lyrics.
The music itself is a nostalgic departure from the previous rock opera styles of Webber’s 70s offerings – Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita. This is more like the Phantom and gentleness of another era.
The Hayes provided a great cast. Caitlin Berry shone as the lead Rose Vibert and her voice was in top form. Berry recently played the lead in She Loves Me where her role was perfect for her operatic tone. Jonathan Hickey played Alex Dillingham, her 17-year-old lover and Grant Smith with his deep sonorous voice played his Uncle George Dillingham. His voice was pure delight and his song for his daughter The First Man You Remember was one of the most delightful and moving of the musical.
Basically the synopsis of the musical revolves around Rose. She is an actress that young Alex falls in love with. He cons her to spend two weeks with him in his villa between engagements. The villa turns out to belong to his uncle who turns up and Rose begins to fall for him. While George is keeping an attractive Italian sculptress Giulietta as his mistress, his head is turned by Rose and they marry. A relationship also begins between Rose and Giulietta. And that is part one.
After the interval, 13 years has passed and the relationships have become more complex. Alex, who has been in the army comes to stay with his Uncle and Rose and their daughter Jenny who is 12-years-old. Three more years pass and Jenny is 15 and falls for Alex. The relationships are complex, George as Jenny’s dad is horrified that Jenny is still a child and Alex is so much older, yet he himself is so much older than his wife, Rose.
There are so many aspects to love. There is first love, the love that Alex has for Rose, that George tells him is just A Memory of a Happy Moment: “A love affair is not a lifetime…all good things have to end. A memory of a happy moment – that’s what this week will one day be.” This is how Rose takes the week with Alex and chooses George over him, but Alex stays in love with Rose.
Giulietta sings: “There is more to love, so much more, than simply making love. That’s easy.” Stefanie Jones as Giulietta is a delight – and so very well inhabits her bohemian character from her first appearance on stage.
The sets are constantly moving and the choreography for this is smooth and almost balletic. The movers were attractive distractions. Most of the musical is set in a Swiss Alps villa, and the small 105-seat theatre is well adapted to this. The small venue also managed to accommodate a 16-piece orchestra behind the stage.
It’s always impressive when the Hayes puts on a production – every inch of the stage is utilized, and in this instance, the constant action made the stage feel so much bigger than it is.
Aspects of Love is not a musical that is performed often. It’s complicated and quiet, and of an era that appeals to a specialised audience. I enjoyed the focus on love. I enjoyed the contrast to a day in the office. It was light and it was wonderfully distracting.
“Love changes everything: hands and faces, earth and sky.
Love changes everything: how you live and how you die.
Love, can make the summer fly
Or a night seem like a lifetime,
Yes, Love, love changes everything.
Now I tremble at your name.
Nothing in the world will ever be the same.”
This is something an experience that in your most generous mind wish on all those around you. To feel the depth of passion, the rawness of emotion, the inability to control its hold. For this, the musical captures so much of the novels heart. It runs and changes as the song is repeated.
There is also the idea that sometimes love can be a “most unwelcome guest” – and everyone in the musical feels this at some point in their romantic trajectories.Aspects is a romantic tribute to love, the love that so many of us have felt at some time, that we feel in different ways through life, and it is love that makes a life.
In our current world it’s both a luxury and a necessity to focus on love. The musical is almost sold out, and deservedly so, but there are still some dates available. Go.