Aspects of Love review at Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester – ‘ravishingly good’
A middle-sized Andrew Lloyd Webber success when it first appeared in 1989, Aspects of Love is now chiefly remembered as the show that propelled Michael Ball to stardom and produced the mega hit Love Changes Everything.
Trevor Nunn’s well-received 2010 Menier Chocolate Factory revival tightened up this heady tale of romantic entanglements between five people spread over three decades and this stripped back Hope Mill Theatre production elevates the show into an unalloyed masterwork.
Paring back the orchestration to just two pianos and percussion adds immediacy to one of Lloyd Webber’s most persuasive scores, bringing the storytelling to the fore and allowing the potency of Don Black and Charles Hart’s lyrics to punch through.
The Hope Mill’s intimate performing space creates an almost suffocating intensity, perfectly in keeping with the passions and thwarted love being enacted onstage. Jason Denvir’s shutter-festooned set ably conjures up the bohemian playgrounds of Paris and Venice, a perfect backdrop for director Jonathan O’Boyle and choreographer Sam Spencer-Lane to create a series of strikingly backlit tableaus, reaching their peak with the intoxicating tango that accompanies Hand Me the Wine and the Dice.
It’s a fluidly urgent concoction that demands total precision from its leads, and they don’t disappoint. Felix Mosse has just the right level of burning intensity and wounded indignity as Alex and he combines to great effect with Kelly Price as the unfettered Rose, one corner of a love triangle that eventually becomes a pentagon. Love, as portrayed here, is a messy, complex business. This production captures that perfectly but also executes it with note-perfect precision.