It is now 43 years since Love Story hit our movie screens and caused a generation to weep as one with its emotional storyline. In 2010 the musical of the film made its debut. It’s now getting its Fringe premier at Paradise in Augustine’s.
The story concerns Oliver Barrett IV, who bumps into Jenny Cavilleri in a New York Library. Both from different worlds, one of wealth and the other of disadvantage. As a way out of her impoverished life, Jenny uses her talent as a pianist to achieve better things. They fall in love and set out on life's journey overcoming obstacles along the way. Ultimately they have to deal with the fact their time is limited and must live and love life for all it’s worth.
While the film is a classic it doesn't transfer well to the musical stage, it’s far too clunky and the musical score is very much the same all the way through with ballad after ballad creating more a sense of depression than emotional tension. Norfolk Youth Music Theatre try their best with the text and have some good voices, but the direction of the show is way off the mark. It’s far too complicated for a Fringe show, with lingering moments of blackness deployed to allow set changes. The addition of the two pianists at the back of the stage in full view of the audience sitting arms crossed when not playing does nothing to enhance the suspension of belief required to make theatre work.
Leading the cast as Oliver is Will Arundell who acquits himself well, despite working with an actor portraying his father who is clearly younger than himself. In the role of Jenny is Eloise Hare whose acting is very good, but her singing is less successful as she struggles above her vocal range. It’s almost to the point of wondering if she is miscast for the role. The strength of the voices of the individual performers is also an issue as some of them are singing so quietly you struggle to hear them over the electric pianos.
The show needs a bit of rethink in direction and paired down to avoid the lengthy pauses which drag the overall product down. The company give it their all, but are hampered by a clunky script.