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THEATRE: 13 SEPTEMBER 2014

By JOHN ROZENTALS

Lovebites, by Peter Rutherford & James Millar

Hayes Theatre Company & Wooden Horse Theatre | Hayes Theatre, Darlinghurst, Sydney | Until 5 October

I approached this with considerable excitement and some trepidation because I first saw the show about five years ago at the Seymour Centre in Chippendale, where one of the writers, James Millar, led an absolutely exhilarating performance.

I needn’t have trepidated too much — my, how I love inventing words — because the new four-person cast of Kirby Burgess, Tyran Parke, Adele Parkinson Carrie and Shaun Rennie executed a wonderful job, though I did have some negative thoughts about a sound system that seemed both harsh and too loud.

The basis of this musical is as simple as it is complex.

Let’s take six different — very different —love affairs, set them to song, look, mainly from one participant’s viewpoint at how they started, then come back after intermission and let the other protagonist loose on how it all worked out, or didn’t.

Fine voices are an obvious requirement for this sort of production, but they are not enough. Stage presence and acting ability are just as important. In the case of Lovebites, these four actors provided the complete package.

It’s a roller-coaster ride of emotions. There are lots and lots of laughs, but there’s great tenderness as well, in some moments, tear-inducing pathos. I had no shame in crying — once again — as I listened to and watched the lesbian couple’s death scene.

This is a lovely piece of theatre — well, actually six pieces of theatre — that will, I’m sure, take anyone and everyone back to some point in their love life.

The first time I saw the play, all I could say was “Shit! This is good!” I left the theatre this time thinking exactly the same thing.