Review: Lovesong *****

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West Yorkshire Playhouse

THIS show should carry a health warning. I haven’t been in a room with so much sniffling since viewing Bambi as a four-year-old. Frantic Assembly, with their idiosyncratic physical theatre, use Abi Morgan’s brilliant script, music, various visual effects, sleight of hand and beautifully choreographed dance moves to weave a spellbinding and elegiac story of life, love and death.

Maggie (Sian Phillips) and Billy (Sam Cox) have been married 40 years, and they’ve weathered various crises in that time, including emigration, facing childlessness and tests of fidelity – all points in the relationship where they might have given up and separated.

Now Maggie is terminally ill and facing the final hurdle she must take alone, despite the tender solicitudes of the stricken Billy. Also present as they face their last days together are the ghosts of the young Maggie and Billy (Leanne Rowe and Edward Bennett), and the intermingling of youthful expectations and creeping doubts during the first years of togetherness are viewed from 40 years on by their older selves. They ask the questions we all might contemplate when looking back from a distance: where did the time go? What kept us together? Would we have done anything differently?

It’s a heartfelt, beautifully crafted piece of theatre which conveys the answers Maggie and Sam come up with mostly without words and causes its audience to leave with a head full of exquisite, heartrending moments and pondering our own answers about what it means to leave behind a life well lived.