Thomas W. Hodgkinson

Aspects of Love

By Andrew Lloyd Webber
Southwark Playhouse, London

Valentine’s Day has come early to the Southwark Playhouse. A committed cast and smart staging make a convincing case that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s swooningly romantic 1989 musical, based on David Garnett’s novella about the complicated love lives of arty types in mid-century Paris, has been unjustly neglected. Felix Mosse is the star of the show as Alex, a tender, slender young Englishman who falls for Kelly Price’s opportunist actress, Rose. He makes up for an occasionally weak voice with his epicene beauty and finely understated acting style, which stands out in the exuberant setting of a musical. Jerome Pradon goes the other way with his Rabelaisian portrayal of Alex’s painter uncle, George, who plucks Rose from him,only to see his beloved daughter, Jenny (Eleanor Walsh), develop a puppyish crush on Alex. Muddling sod, love. As Alex points out in his reprisals of the show’s best-known tune, it “changes everything”. But what deepens ALW’s piece is George’s counterbalancing belief in the shallowness of love: surging passion will be recalled as little more than a “happy moment”. We’ve all been there. By the time Price lets rip with a barnstorming confession of her resolve to be “anything but lonely”, we have few defences left against such emotional honesty.