James Grieve originally directed this play for Paines Plough, of which he is co-artistic director, and the Plymouth Drum in a touring production that studiously avoided a London date. That was in 2010. Now he is restaging it, with a starry new cast, at London’s premiere new writing venue.
Victoria Hamilton (Sandra) and Sam Troughton (Henry) in Love Love Love at the Royal Court, London (previous picture shows Ben Miles Kenneth) Photo: Tristram Kenton
Mike Bartlett’s play is highly topical, exploring one of the most important generational fault lines of recent years: the conflict between the baby boomers and their children. The story begins in 1967, the Summer of Love, when we meet Kenneth and Sandra, who fall for each other despite the fact that she is the girlfriend of his brother Henry.
The next act is set in 1990, by which time the couple has two teenage children: Rose and Jamie. As ever, family life is fraught and the conflict between Kenneth and Sandra is exacerbated by their determination to use truth as a weapon. The final act is in the present, with Rose confronting her parents over their selfish behaviour.
Bartlett’s play balances a concern for big issues with a deep regard for the individual characters. Assessing the material successes of her parents’ generation, Rose blames them for the fact that her friends typically live in worse accommodation, have less-good jobs and poorer prospects. It’s partly a social comment, partly a cry of individual resentment.
Grieve directs rather too slowly, on Lucy Osborne’s overblown set, with saving performances from Victoria Hamilton as Sandra, partly adventurous, partly vulnerable, and Claire Foy as the resentful and truth-telling Rose. Ben Miles and Sam Troughton as the brothers Kenneth and Henry are similarly watchable, with George Rainsford excellent as the disturbed Jamie.