Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Love Lines - Teresa Brayshaw and Friends in HEART Café

Sally Bavage writes:
Escorted individually to our allotted seats in the pop-up 'restaurant' with communal refectory-style table, for one night only in the Heart café, audience members were immediately immersed in the evening's glamorous yet mysterious atmosphere created by the 'cast.'  “Glass of wine?”  “Do sit here and make yourself comfortable.”   “Help yourself to the grapes.”  Scattered hearts on the red and white tablecloths, live and mellow notes from 'Blue Moon' and 'Funny Valentine' set the mood.  Expectant.  Intrigued.

The 'cast' of nine performers sat amongst the 'guests' at the table and began to speak to each other, and us, about love. We talk of it, plead for it, cry about it, don't we? We write of it, don't we? - letters, emails, texts.  We skype, meet, date, don't we?  So love 'lines' - from sonnets and songs, from films and poems - were sent across the table in a medley of conversations that mixed medium with message.  

Lines were started at one place, continued through time and place, source and country and ended up echoing round the table in ghostly fragments of conversations.  Like the love lines and lifelines on our palms, talking of love is endless.

Mollie Bloom discoursed movingly on it.  Jack and Rose from the Titanic pledged to each other within our earshot.  Shakespeare questioned us from the distant past, answered by conversations between lovers from a more recent age.  Loving messages and refrains from across the centuries 'spoke' to each other across the years.  Was that Pliny? Henry the Eighth?  Rosa Luxembourg?  Mrs Beeton?  Admiral Nelson?  Napoleon? Empress Josephine?  Robert Burns?  Mrs Wordsworth?  Lord Byron?  Shirley Bassey?  The Artist Formerly Known As Prince?  Frank Sinatra?  Oscar Wilde?  Robert Browning?  John Lennon?  

Yes, imagine all of them in the room conversing about their desires and longings, setbacks and joys, domestic disasters and sexual frissons.  Could we spot the joins in these conversations?  No, there is a universal language that lovers use not bound by time or date - the same sweeping human emotions seem to have been expressed in words that differ little from age to age.  “Give me my memories” begs one rejected lover.  Like letters from the front in WW1, the words sent back and forth between separated lovers in post-war Russia echo the pain of those distanced from all that is human and warm.  

Like an audience at the ballet or opera, the 'guests' wanted to clap each individual piece that was both clever and affecting but we could not, and did not, break the mood and spoil the moments.  A final refrain from “Until we meet again” seemed most apt, as the 'guests' fervently asserted that we hope it will be at next year's LitFest!

An hour of truly absorbing entertainment, with masterful performances in memorisation, song and playing of parts from a committed cast and technical support team that included those returning especially from Spain, France and points of the English compass.  For love, naturally.  Commissioned for LitFest 2013, this premiere performance owes many thanks to: Steve Atkinson, Teresa Brayshaw, Hannah Butterfield, Lisa Fallon, Joely Fielding, Louise Hill, Rochnee Mehta, Emma Sargison, Noel Witts - with support from Charlotte Blackburn and Matt Sykes-Hooban. Oliver Bray took photos and Ben Mills filmed the event.

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