Shall I compare this show to a summer’s day? I wouldn’t call it lovely or temperate. The biggest similarity is probably the sweatiness.
L.O.V.E is a boisterously physical take on Shakespeare’s sonnets, with writhing dancers reciting the words and recreating the poems’ famous love triangle. However, the show is paradoxically at its best when not focusing on lines of poetry but instead on physicality.
The dancing is frequently spectacular. The performers literally throw their weight around, swirling and falling and bouncing off both the set and each other. Not only is this an impressive physical feat, it perfectly captures the lack of self-control which comes which such intense emotion. Series of breathtaking lifts demonstrate the dependency of one lover on another, the need to be supported by someone.
But all this feverish movement - there’s plenty of kissing and violence as well - isn’t necessarily the perfect environment to speak Shakespearean poetry. The Sonnets are not just declarations of passion, they’re also bundles of closely-woven wordplay and they can be difficult to follow when said passionately and quickly, the lines shared between performers. The Elizabethan register of most of the speech also makes the moments when non-Shakespearean dialogue is included jar considerably, particularly when the lines are as uninspiring as ‘Yeah, I’ll agree with you there, actually’.
Perhaps because of the difficulties of the dialogue, I found it hard to believe in the desire that is supposedly buzzing between all three of the characters in the show. Too often, displays of passion descend into something cringily demonstrative, like saying ‘Yeah baby’ or slapping someone’s bum. The most convincing moments were those that were a little more tender - clasping someone tightly or finding a place to kiss gently on their face - but these were few and far between. Though this is a vibrant, energetic, impressive show, it’s meant to be about one of the most beautiful and concentrated feelings a human being can have and on an emotional level, it fails to convince.