Lack of passion for show of long lost love

Songs From A Hotel Bedroom, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, October 20

Two people meet, fall in love, draw apart then long to be with each other again.

A familiar story, here played out on stage with songs, music and dialogue with the actors/singers accompanied by two beautiful and elegant dancers as the “ghosts” of the lovers.

It is an interesting and brave experiment - a collaboration between the New Wolsey, the Segue creative arts company and the Watford Palace Theatre, bringing together drama and dance and co-written by Kate Flatt, the show’s director and choreographer, and Peter Rowe, the New Wolsey’s artistic director.

The engagement of an audience for such a show may depend largely on the degree of interest in the story of the two lovers but the narrative here was a bit thin with a very clich�d ending.

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An audience also needs to be convinced about the passion between the actors and I felt more work needs to be done in this direction.

Frances Ruffelle as Angelique and Nigel Richards as Dan are certainly great singers and performers although it was easy to appreciate why most of the Kurt Weill material presented here was “lesser known”, with the exception of the lovely September Song. However, his followers may see this as a rare chance to hear compositions from his late 1940s “jazz phase”.

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Ruffelle and Richards worked incredibly hard to create a chemistry but it never quite hit the mark. The love affair seemed to need more passionate intensity.

This may also be true of the dancing of Amir Giles and Tara Pilbrow. Supremely graceful, the two created some beautiful shapes and movements in trying to reflect the relationship of the lovers, but there was a lack of the erotic charge usually associated - in this country at least - with that most sensuous of dances, the Argentinian tango.

This is, at times, a clumsily staged production, with lots of screen moving although the use of transparent curtains worked well in helping to create a dreamlike quality for the story.

An inspired on-stage band of accomplished musicians, led by James Holmes, added great atmosphere and authenticity to a piece which has attracted Lottery funding and has been co-commissioned by the Royal Opera House.

David Green

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