Four desks, each littered with character appropriate props: on the first, colourful craft ribbons, tea and biscuits; the second, a simple but elegant glass and bottle of white wine; the third, a stapler, post-its and a notebook; and the fourth, an Apple Mac laptop and a to-go coffee cup. Four actors sat at these desks and vulnerably poured out their love stories out to me, as though I were the only one to hear them. Of course, I was in fact not alone in the intimate space watching Love in the Past Participle, far from it, but the emotional depth and credibility of the stories and performances drew me in close, making me feel like a confidant to their beautifully expressed love lives.
First of all the writing was a treat: dexterous use of natural and engaging language that ensured that the stories skipped merrily along the path of amusing, interesting and poignant anecdotes, being careful never to stumble into the ditch of cliché or insincerity. Simple spotlighting was used to jump between stories which meant that no anecdote or story ever outstayed its welcome. Commendation must go to every member of the four-person cast (Ella Bendall, Sarah Gibbon, Robert Scobie and Andrew Galea) who delivered their love-stories with an authentic and beguiling style, all of them mastering expressive, charismatic and emotive characterisation. Bendall, Gibbon, Scobie and Galea also all each used the intimate space to their advantage, connecting effectively with the audience, as though telling the story to an enraptured group of friends.
Honest, raw and utterly, utterly magnetic, Love in the Past Participle moves the audience through narratives about sex, tenderness, suspicion, disappointment, emptiness, cheating, mistrust, numbness, heartbreak and loss; all encapsulated in the overarching image of unconquerable love. Eloquently written, powerfully and tenderly performed, this production’s simple and relatable honesty is truly worth seeing: you will be amused, you will be moved, and you will remember what it’s like to fall in love.