Sat 5th September to Sat 12th September
Ten Acts of Love. Two Thousand Years.
Buffini's fast-paced script calls upon a talented and versatile cast of 6 actors to bring to life over 30 characters in rapid succession in an entertaining exploration of the power of sexual attraction.
Witty, sexy, powerful, LOVEPLAY follows a trail of seductions, transactions and encounters that take place in the same location in London across 2000 years. A search for love, through time and history.
Please note: This production contains strong language and sexual references.
There will also be smoking on stage under The Smoke-free (Exemptions and Vehicles) Regulations 2007
*Loveplay by Moira Buffini is at the Criterion from Monday until Saturday from 7.30pm.
Review 1 by Chris Arnot
Loveplay covers just over 2,000 years in 1 hour 40 minutes. No interval. No let-up in the action either in what could all too easily have been a series of reviews rather than a coherent exploration of the elusive nature of love and sex through the ages.
We remain throughout in the same London location as it evolves from a Roman brothel to a modern dating agency via the Dark Ages, the first Millennium, the Renaissance and several more ages of man. And woman. Moira Buffini's play has a distinctly feminist slant without being preachy. It is, at various times, rumbustiously humorous, casually shocking, vividly poetic and challengingly thought-provoking.
The sheer slickness and pace of the production comes down to the youthful exuberance of a talented cast under the astute direction of Jane Railton. Changes in costume behind a blank studio set come as quickly as changes in accent, manner and tone.
One minute Pete Meredith is strutting around the stage as an Elizabethan playwright, the next he's stripping down to his underpants while playing an artisan plucked from the streets by a female rationalist in the Age of Enlightenment. It seems like one of the few occasions when the woman has the upper hand. She has the money. She has brains. She has the posh house.
Georgia Kelly plays her with exactly the right mixture of brittleness and arrogance. There is a particularly poignant moment when her scientific investigation of the male anatomy gives way to something rather more fundamental. Briefly she holds on to his shoulders and buries her face in his back as a 33-year-old virgin ponders what she has been missing.
Miss Tilly might have been able to enlighten her had she not belonged to a different era. Here she is, the family governess giving her employer, Mr Quilley, a good rogering while outlining the plot of her proposed novel. It is the early 19th century and the Romantic Age is well underway. Whether she ever gets the chance to write the novel is debatable as Mr Quilley emerges from underneath, adjusts his clothing and reasserts himself as the one who's really on top - the 'respectable family man who pays her wages and calls the tune.
He's played by Sean Glock, who was an Elizabethan actor a couple of scenes ago and will shortly re-emerge as a repressed homosexual vicar in the Age of Empire. And Miss Tilly? That's Ruth Herd. It doesn't seem five minutes since she was playing a lesbian nun.
Time flies. Hugh Sorrill has evolved, via several other roles, from a randy Roman soldier to a bombastic consultant specialising in urinary tracts and availing himself of the services of the dating agency on the same site as the brothel. Instead of paying a whore in new-fangled coinage, he is about to take out one of the agency partners for what promises to be a very expensive meal, having already planted a proprietorial hand on her right buttock. We are, remember, in the same part of London some 2,000 years on.
The moral would appear to be that, when it comes down to basics, nothing much changes - even if it takes a hell of a lot of changes of character, costume, accent and demeanour to get that message across.
Review 2 by Barbara Goulden
What's Love Got To Do With It?
An extraordinary exploration of sex from Roman times right up to Internet dating is offered by a hugely talented six-strong cast at the Criterion who downright bewilder audiences with their variety of incarnations.
I honestly didn't recognise the Roman soldier (Hugh Sorrill) who becomes the Sixties hippy and goes on to become the bumptious, tight-jacketed doctor in the final scenes.
Written by Moira Buffini and directed by Jane Railton this is a sketch show with significance and a lot of laughs along the way.
I can't praise the young cast enough. As well as Hugh there were the multi-faceted Jo Higbee, Pete Meredith, Ruth Herd, Sean Glock and Georgia Kelly.
Who was who in each incarnation? By the end I neither knew, nor cared.
But each could turn from prostitute to nun, from a military man to vicar, alcoholic, revolutionary, scientist and matchmaker at the spin of a bottle.
I was particularly touched by Georgia Kelly's final big screen dating appeal which must have so many resonances for modern 30-something young women everywhere.
A play for our times - and one really worth seeing.