'The Dark Side of Love' or 'The traumatic teens.'

'The Dark Side of Love'
Roundhouse Theatre, Wednesday 27th June 2012
Written for The Ham & High

Deep beneath the Roundhouse Theatre, in the cavernous Dorfman Hub space, a bunch of teenagers are exorcising their demons. Nestled inside narrow caves or hidden behind dusty sheets, these young Brits and Brazilians are clearly very, very sad. A lonely lass sings atop a piano, anguished lads literally climb the walls and a particularly disturbed young lady chomps down on some red balloons.

It's an intriguing opening to 'The Dark Side of Love', which is a promenade piece based on Shakespeare's tragedies. The strange vignettes initially make little sense but they strongly suggest a world turned upside down by love. This dizzying atmosphere is enhanced by strange projections, which reveal shimmering faces in buckets of water and strange silhouettes in the shadows. 
This deliciously disorientating introduction is only the first phase of this sparky, inventive production. What's so wonderful about this collaboration between the Roundhouse and LIFT (in association with the RSC) is the way it skilfully slides between the joys and ecstasies of love. The claustrophobic opening reflects the confusion that love provokes, the energetic middle section revels in the fiery excitement of instant attraction and the powerful conclusion rams home the agony of heartbreak. 
Whilst there are snatches of some of Shakespeare's most famous love scenes here, the actors have also been encouraged to contribute their own interpretations. The results are honest and deeply moving. After all, heartbreak is never quite as devastating as that first, all consuming experience. 
When these talented teens sing, their voices ring raw with emotion. When they dance, their bodies seem to be reaching out, desperately, for a lifeline. And, when one shy lass launches into a fierce, frank poem ('Falling in love is all I can do.'), it's all you can do not to weep for her young, fragile heart.


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