The Love List
Director: Dan Pengelly
Review Date: 22nd February 2018
Thursday night was a chillier night than usual for what I’ve come to think of as a hellish summer, and I was in a low mood as I pulled up to Centrepoint Theatre to see The Love List. My theatre attending companion furnished me with a glass of rosé to help warm my chilly mood but as we found our way to our seats I commented on how cold it was in there. I leaned forward and nastily whispered ‘this better be funny enough to warm me up’ and then I sat back and looked around the audience for someone new to get angry at.
You know that you’re watching some extremely high quality skills when you forget about everything going on around you and become so intently entrenched in a story that you feel like you’re actually part of what’s happening. Laughter erupted from my insides, and such was the vigour with which I writhed around in my seat and craned my neck so as to make sure I wouldn’t miss anything, that I gained a body temperature that was no longer angering.
I had no idea what The Love List was about before I saw the show, and I’m glad about that. It was such a delight to watch it all unfold before me. However for your benefit I’ll briefly describe the content. The Love List is a realistic, yet fantasy based comedy exploring the qualities of a perfect woman and more broadly the imperfect qualities of all relationships. This description does no justice to the show that I saw – sorry, but seeing is believing.
I confess that though Millen Baird (Leon) is of NZ Television fame -having appeared in many an award winning show including 800 words and Shortland Street to name a few recognisable ones
(I only know that because of the programme), seeing him in real life was an absolute treat. With such a lot riding on delivering snappy and comedic dialogue this play could easily have fallen flat in unskilled hands but Baird really brought the goods with his excellent, incredibly funny depiction of a worldly, lovable, lothario, writer. Siobhan Marshall (Justine) – also a frequent flyer on our local screens in shows such as Outrageous Fortune, Shortland Street, and The Almighty Johnsons – carried off what must have been a challenging role with an ease that was extremely comforting. Her ability to multi-task is a skill which should not be overlooked simply because she made it look so easy. One of the things I really enjoyed about seeing this cast working together was the sense that they were all really enjoying themselves too. The chemistry between long-time mates Leon and Bill (played by Aaron Ward who most recently portrayed the extremely hateable Adam Ross in Shortland Street) was exactly as you would expect in real life and another reason why everything felt so believable. The dialogue was slick, with excellent one-liners and a plethora of local references which ensured that you shared every single in-joke on the list!
The Love List has magical qualities to enchant its audience. How can I begin to separate the parts when they were so seamlessly melded together? The set by Ian Harman was perfect because I forgot I was looking at a set and fully believed I was hanging out in a middle-aged bachelor pad, the lighting by Tayla Pilcher was excellent because I believed that the actors had gone to sleep and woken up in the morning and it wasn’t just a trick of the light. The direction by Dan Pengelly must have been truly wonderful because that bachelor pad was alive with natural movement and genuine sounding conversations. It was like I was living inside a 3D TV show in which they would need to tone down the audience laughter for fear it would drown out what was happening on stage. That’s a good point actually, I wasn’t insanely laughing on my own. We were ALL laughing.
I could make a long list of reasons why you should see this show and ultimately I think The Love List should be at the top of your list of things to go see.
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