Review: LOVE ME TENDER by Tom Holloway

An important story works to be told

By Myron My

Directed by Patrick McCarthy, Love Me Tender explores the aftermath of the Black Saturday fires and the effects it has had particularly on one man and his family.

Love Me Tender

I appreciate the adage “show, don’t tell” in theatre, so for me, this performance unfortunately consisted of too much telling. I find prolonged exposition hinders the involvement that an audience member can have with a piece and makes us less likely to care for or invest in the characters.  My other issue with this was that the characters tend to spend a lot of time talking about other people and offering very little about themselves, including remaining unnamed the whole time. The obvious effort to represent universal experiences here isn’t entirely successful.

That said, actors Nick Pelomis and James Tresise had great banter and rapport together. Their scenes are reminiscent of Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot, bordering on the absurd but giving some relief from the more serious mood at hand. Sarah Ogden also provides a strong yet subtle performance as the Mother.

Lisa Mibus has created a great lighting design for this production, and there were moments where the shadows on the background dominated the scene that was being played out, adding an atmospheric sense of macabre and impending doom to the story. The set design by Ashlee Hughes was also impressive; minimal and subtly used throughout, including a lone tree void of any life after a fire has gone through as its centrepiece.

Love Me Tender attempts to cover a variety of topics including bushfires, love, family and the sexualisation of teenage girls but it doesn’t all flow smoothly and you do get confused as to what is happening. The disjointed stories made this narrative difficult to follow.

McCarthy has obviously worked hard with a difficult and ambitious script by a reputable Australian playwright, which should always be commended, but ultimately I felt Love Me Tender prevents the characters or story from developing to their full potential.

Venue: Theatreworks, 14 Acland St, St Kilda

Season: Until 2 March | 8:00pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $20 Conc

Bookings: 9534 3388 or http://www.theatreworks.org.au

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