Love (fortyfivedownstairs) – theatre review

Finding love and keeping the flame flickering is difficult enough for any couple. But the couple in Patricia Cornelius’ Love are two rough-as-guts junkies.

Image: Pier Carthew

Tanya (Tahlee Fereday) fell in love with Annie (Carly Sheppard) the moment she set eyes on her in jail. That love was reciprocated. Annie dreams of a better life with Tanya outside when they’re released. Only – hardly surprisingly – things don’t quite work out the way she expected. While Tanya is briefly sent back inside, Lorenzo (Benjamin Nichol), a serious addict, steps into 19-year-old Annie’s life. All three characters will be tested as affinities ebb and flow.

Love, as depicted in this play, is a decidedly rocky road among these damaged souls, involving shifts in power and control. Annie is forever looking for positive reinforcement, Tanya is her dominant partner, while Lorenzo is the snake in the grass only out for his next score. In Annie, he has someone he can readily manipulate as long as he coos the right words.

Love was first performed in 2005, but it’s lost none of its impact under the direction of Susie Dee. It has real bite. The material is so compelling you can’t turn away.

That has much to do with the writing, but also the solid acting evident in all three performances.  Let’s face it – Annie, Tanya and Lorenzo are hardly people mum would willingly have over for dinner. In fact, she’d steer clear of them.

An edginess is apparent in the language and mannerisms adopted by Sheppard, Fereday and Nichol.

Image: Pier Carthew

Strictly low-rent, Love keeps it real. It offers a disturbing and affecting insight into a growing underclass in society. Under Dee’s tight direction, it’s as relevant today as when it was so carefully sculpted by Cornelius and makes for triumphant theatre.

Love is on at fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, until 9 June 2019.

Alex First

Other reviews you might enjoy: