Review: Many Loves' Tender Mercy in Love and Death

Posted by Wayves Volunteer 15/07/2016

By Hugo Dann

As we enter the theatre we find that our usual role has been altered. Rather than being stuffed en masse into the duck blind of “audience” we’re encouraged to choose our own vantage point from which to view the proceedings. By shifting the relationship between performers and observers Many Loves creates a safe, public, yet intimate, space for us to engage with the perfomers and with each other. We’re all in this dream together.

The themes are Love and Death, and as with any play about death it is very much concerned with life; particularly with the ephemeral details that accumulate into a life lived or a love fulfilled: phone messages, train trips, mums and dads, hobbies, vacations, growing old.

A young man walks carefully, deliberately among us. He’s joined by another young man. They’re very beautiful, one dark, one fair, in perfect complement. It is unusual for me to comment on performers’ physical attributes, but in this case their beauty seems as integral to the piece as Tadzio’s to Death in Venice.

We listen to the story of their  meeting. They communicate silently but intimately, silmultaneously playful and melancholy just like people falling in love. They perform little ceremonies together and draw us into sharing their joy.

The text, by Michael Lake provides the structure, but never explains, leaving our own imaginations free. Mr. Lake performs as well, along with Tom Lute. Their interactions are a delight.  Ann-Marie Kerr’s direction is, as always, of the highest standard. Olivia McGinn stage manages a number of technical elements that provide the platform for this gentle piece of theatre.

I responded viscerally to Many Loves. Perhaps that may be a generational reaction. Having lost dozens of colleagues, friends and lovers during the plague years, and later providing end of life care to my mother so she could die at home, but I feel a particular connection to the nexus of love and death.

Many Loves is a tender, playful, ritualized exploration of that nexus. In its last magical moments it brings us full circle, back to the joyful beginnings of life; ever-renewing, ever-lasting.

You have two chances to see Many Loves at Queer Acts theatre Festival: tonight at 7:30pm; Saturday at 9:00pm. I highly recommend it.

Author’s Note: I’m very interested to hear other peoples’ response to Many Loves. I have left the Comments field open at wayves.ca and I encourage people to share their thoughts on WayvesFacebook page as well.

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