Friday, 15 March 2019

REVIEW: Romance Romance at Above the Stag

Romance Romance is a musical in two acts; The first takes place ‘in and around turn-of-the-century Vienna’ focusing on the relationship between Valentin and Alfred, both coming from wealthy backgrounds go in disguise to have an affair with someone from a poorer background but both fool each other and make up stories that in the end they both have to come clean. It turns out, because they both actually come from the same social background, they can be together but because the whole relationship is built on lies, will it work? 

The second act fast forwards to modern day and set in an apartment where two couples are shacking up for the summer in the Hamptons. We see two best friends, Jeremy and Sam, sharing details about their partners, Leonard and Benjamin, and their marriages. Hidden feelings come up and they come clean to each other but will their marriages survive? 

Act one was a true musical farce and the writing reflected this style through and through. The direction and choreography all embraced this style and it was a really enjoyable story to watch unfold, the devises used also really complimented the story and is executed incredibility well. 

Jordan Lee Davies plays Valentin with Blair Robertson playing Alfred, the connection they had was both romantic but also passionate which we loved to watch as an audience. 

In the second act we follow Ryan Anderson as Jeremy and Alex Lodge as Sam. What these two actors achieve is an underlying sexual tension the whole way through. We truly believed there was much more to the story than we were seeing. 

This act is far more modern in its style, considering it was originally written in the 1980’s it feels very current with the updates from the creative team. 

The flaws lay in the piece as a whole, the two acts stand alone very well separately but to put the two side by side makes us ask questions and the relevance between the two stories and what we can learn from comparing them. In the direction, none of the devises used made a return in the second act so it really felt like we were watching two completely different shows. Upon reflection I’m not sure what the relevance was between the two and it would have been nicer if the style and choices made in the first act could have followed through. 

Act one also could do with a few cuts, considering the length of Act Two it seems slightly out of place to have Act one the length that it is. 

Blair Robertson really plays his part well, his choices are quite different to those of his colleagues but it really blends so well with his characters. As Alfred in the first act, his vocals were really smooth and fitted the genre perfectly. 

Ryan Anderson plays Jeremy in the second act, considering this is only three days after the opening of the show he seems very comfortable and in control of his character. His solo number blew the roof off and pulled on your heart strings. 

Alex Lodge plays Anderson's best friend, Sam, and as an audience we see him totally torn on his choices. We’re behind him completely, even though what he is doing might not be the right thing to do! His vocals were effortless and stunning with some really strong acting, I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more from this actor. 

Jordan Lee Davies plays Valentin in the first act and he is a stand out in the show, his comedy timing is just perfect but what makes him a stand out is his ability to also make you feel his vulnerability and sensitivity at the same time. Even in his smaller part in Act 2, I couldn’t stop watching him. A 5 star performance from Davies. 

This is an enjoyable two parter with some fantastic performances from a super talented group of actors. Considering this show has been completely changed (it was actually original done with straight couples on Broadway) and completely modernised its a really charming piece with an interesting insight to some romantic relationships. Brilliant original and new musical theatre done well by a talented, intelligent and polished creative team. 

Review by Mark Swale 

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: B13 | Price of Ticket: £27.50 

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