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The Verb, “To Love”

Old Red Lion Theatre, London

Boasting one of the oldest pub theatres in London, the Old Red Lion in Islington reaches out to the LGBT community, but this uplifting account of the vicissitudes of a gay relationship has a universal appeal, especially as all ends happily.  Although coming within the category of ‘musical’, the piece is more in the nature of a monologue set to music, sung through charmingly by Martin Neely as the older of the amorous pair – “old enough to be his father”, as he confesses, though there is nothing wrong with that.  It was the norm among the Ancient Greeks.

The younger partner occasionally turns the monologue into a dialogue, and duets lyrically with his mentor.  But Gareth Bretherton’s main role is to play the piano accompaniment throughout, and at this he is most accomplished.  As the music has to carry along the story told by the actor, a lot of it does not particularly stand out in the way it might in a normal musical, when it is interspersed amid the main action.  But there are some good tunes, fitting Stalin’s criterion of being hummable by workers and peasants.  The lyrics rhyme cleverly, with surprises like traumatic and attic.  And some of the lyrics are very funny, such as when the pitfalls of online dating are being described.

Despite the downside of temporary separation, this is generally a light and sunny piece, affording a sharp contrast to the drama played out later the same evening at the Old Red Lion, Portia Coughlan.  There is an interval of three-quarters of an hour between the two, during which determined theatre-goers can refresh themselves at the excellent bar.

  • Musical
  • Story, Music and Lyrics by Andy Collyer
  • Directed by Jonathan O’Boyle
  • Old Red Lion Theatre, London
  • Until 23 May 2015
  • Time: 19:00
  • Review by Richard McKee
  • 2 May 2015

About The Author

Trustee & Reviewer (UK)

Richard McKee is a lawyer, and used to be a judge, but despite that (or because of that) he likes comedy, cabaret and pantomime.  These are the things that he reviews for Plays to See, for which – in view of his great age – he is also a trustee.  He leaves the serious stuff to the young!  But seriously, though, he thinks it is a great idea for young reviewers to hone their critical faculties and communication skills by writing for Plays to See, and feels privileged to be involved in its current expansion.

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