Love Scenes - London (FR) 2009
May 20, 2009
Attitude Magazine ***
That the current production of LOVE SCENES at Above the Stag in Victoria doesn’t quite pull off its American success in its London home is no reflection on the great talents and charisma of actor Moe Bertran who plays all the parts in this one-man, six character piece.
In David Pumo’s six unrelated scenes, six characters (varying from a boxer to a rent boy) talk to unseen characters about various subjects. There are witty one-liners throughout, which Bertran delivers with well-timed understatement. There is fun to be had ticking the boxes of the typical subjects which appear in these sorts of things- Barbara Streisand concerts, being a rent boy, the locker room, the worries about “open relationships” and so on.
The fact that the ground being walked is so familiar isn’t in itself a problem, especially when performed with such variation by Bertran. But with every scene lacking the number of gags to count as a sketch, lacking any character development which would make them ‘scenes’ and lacking a theme to make the whole thing cohere, it becomes a little bit “so what?”
For all its shortcomings, Love Songs is a pleasant 75 minutes. The writing, though gentle, is engaging. “I didn’t want to love him, I just wanted to fuck him a few hundred times” says the character in the badly-lit opening church scene (in which the pointless mirror ball, only used in the curtain call, casts a huge ugly shadow on the back wall- has nobody spotted this?). “Everybody’s gotta go through some shit; why go through it alone?” concludes the final character, in a line which comes closest to indicating a possible theme.
Oddly, Moe Bertran doesn’t wait for the lights to fade to black before moving to his costume change area; he rarely leaves any time for the invisible other person to respond to what he says- both of which imply a slight ‘going through the motions’ attitude after playing the show so many times in different places.
Even the completely unnecessary yet seemingly-obligatory dropping of his pants can’t disguise that Love Scenes is really an actor’s showcase, not a play. As such it works effectively and it doesn’t bore.
People wanting more substance from their evenings out would be advised to run to Spring Awakening before it closes on May 30th and wait for Moe Bertran to find a more worthy vehicle for his talent.