The Loves I Haven't Known

Chris Bush and Ian McCluskey have both been down on their luck in love, or so they tell us when they say this is a ‘true story based on things that might not have happened.’ This gem of a show charts their unrequited loves, the ones who got away, all the way to the ones who disagree with their choice of kebab topping at 3am outside a sticky Doncaster nightclub.

Lyricist Chris, the seemingly more straight-laced of the pair, voices his words with a dexterity that makes him look like a country bard; composer Ian looks a little more youthful, prone to drunken bouts and waking up pondering his existence (something he is apparently, and hilariously, well equipped to do after a philosophy degree). With a couple of guitars in tow - and later a melodica - the two craft as much a play with music than a full blown musical; the music creeps up, at points riddled with jokes and at others carrying perhaps a little excessive sombreness, although lyricist Bush, having created Tony! The Blair Musical with McCluskey, knows exactly the moment when to drop the best comic lines even in the most serious of scenarios. When they’re not singing, they’re doing a slightly surreal, very funny stand-up routine that alternates with the songs, and there’s more than a whiff of Woody Allen in their self-deprecating, self-mocking humour.

In other respects too, the show is rich in originality. The writers weave together stories received on their website of others’ lost loves, that give the show a new dimension of warmth. McCluskey’s music, while rarely complex, is catchy and well-suited to the limited stage set-up, while Bush’s lyrics are brilliant in catching the frustrations of human relationships (‘I need a platonic relationship like / I need an inoperable tumour!’). But Bush and McCluskey’s skill is that they understand comedy is a defence for life’s little tragedies, for better or worse.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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The Blurb

'No, love's a b*tch', I said, 'love, not you'. But the damage was done... Uproarious tales of romantic misadventure from the creators of Tony! The Blair Musical. 'Genius' **** (Scotsman). 'Spot-on' **** (Evening Standard). www.bushmccluskey.co.uk.

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