Theatre is a space that holds old chestnuts under new flames. There is a myriad of plays that explore what it is to love someone, to be loved, to be alive, so how do we make fresh material to answer the same questions that have been asked for centuries? Morosophy Theatre Company makes a philosophical nightmare feel like an intimate chat with close friends. To Me, That’s What Love Is is part of [email protected]’s second season, which has provided a virtual space for theatre as the leading venue for Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This piece not only overcomes the tough conditions that come with COVID-19, but actually thrives in them!
Six disconnected characters deliver fragmented monologues about their thoughts on love and what it means. We see a diverse range of perspectives through which to view love: a man who rolls with the punches in the world of dating, a romantic woman who falls in love with a fleeting moment, and a cynical woman who questions the validity of love, are only half of the ensemble.
The most refreshing aspect of To Me, That’s What Love Is is that it doesn’t solely concern itself with romantic love. On character celebrates the strong relationship that she has with her parents, and shows her mother off to the world. On a sadder note, two men are experiencing loss; one is heartbroken and is slowly picked back up by his mates, whereas the other reminisces on the reckless driving of their friend. It’s a breath of fresh air to see love celebrated wherever it shows itself, and to lament the pain it causes.
I thought the acting was marvellously understated from the entire cast, who created an intimate feel to the play. I felt like these characters had let me into their own worlds after a glass of wine. Sometimes there were attempts to save face (“I’m not a nihilist”, and “I’m not a romantic”), like they were afraid of the judgement I’d give. The rhyming verse united the otherwise separate monologues, providing a continuous flow to what could easily be a very fragmented piece. The accompanying animation was a sweet adornment to a whirlwind of emotions, which worked wonderfully in tandem with the delivery of the actors.
The fragmentation of the characters and their stories, by interweaving their monologues together, made me ask a lot of questions. Should I have identified a connection between them? Two of them shared a moment with someone in a club, but it seems that was purely coincidental. Was the unrequited lover grieving over a character in this piece? At the end of the half-hour, the answer to all of them was no. At first, I was disappointed by this lack of connection- especially when I think of how other works, such as Crave by Sarah Kane, draw links between otherwise isolated characters. However, I realised that no further connection was needed between them, as they all shared a common experience: everyone experienced love in some way or another. They may have loved someone, be currently in-love, or received love once, but it was enough that they all shared this experience, however tenuous that link may be.
So, why not spend half an hour watching the heartfelt To Me, That’s What Love Is? It makes you think, feel, and look at an old question in a fresh format. I can’t recommend it enough!
Words by Elizabeth Sorrell.
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