Within the wonderfully intimate confines of the Old Joint Stock Theatre, this week they have joined forces with Illuminate to present a re-staging of City Love, which played at the Fringe last year.
Set in traverse, the simple yet effective staging immersed the audience from the get-go with a reimagining of the London tube network forming the backdrop. The intertwining tube map serves as a metaphor for the relationship we see unfolding on stage, the twists, the turns and the inevitable collision of these two characters.
Elizabeth Lloyd-Raynes fizzes as Lucy. She’s the one embracing her independence, she lives on her own just about making ends meet and makes sure she pops to buy her Fairtrade coffee before work to show her colleagues she cares about the environment. Meanwhile we have Sam Blake, who delivered a fine performance as Jim. He’s the guy living in the basement of his sister’s place, he does his job, pays the bills and gets by. Nothing particularly special. Yet these two, rather different characters on the surface share many of the same hopes and fears, and their love story is a delightful whirlwind.
The beauty of this show lies in its simplicity, it isn’t necessarily a ground-breaking storyline, but it has real heart. Running at just 60 minutes, you are taken on a journey through the lives of Lucy and Jim, who first meet on the Number 12 night bus, following a series of awkward glances. The audience at times become the fellow bus passengers and at other points they are the best friend Kim, Lucy’s Mother or Lucy’s Father. It’s clever and utterly compelling. You are sucked into their story as you see them fall in love and then watch as their lives begin to crumble.
There are moments when the plot feels a little overpacked, especially as the storyline spirals near the end. Nevertheless, the performances delivered in this two-hander are convincingly beautiful and an even greater achievement is that in this mere 60 minutes you become emotionally invested in their relationship. From humour to tragedy, so much joy and hurt was captured in the short space of time.
Littered with many a laugh throughout, both actors really did shine and the direction from Karl Steele meant that this raw and touching piece of theatre glowed in the Old Joint Stock Theatre’s space.
City Love plays at the Old Joint Stock Theatre until Saturday 17th March.
Writer: Simon Vinnicombe
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