REVIEW: Colne Dramatic Society beautifully weaves together Abi Morgan's tender love story at The Little Theatre

Vivien Thornber and Neil Tranmer as Maggie and Billy in Abi Morgan's Lovesong, which is being presented by Colne Dramatic Society at The Little Theatre this week. (s)
Vivien Thornber and Neil Tranmer as Maggie and Billy in Abi Morgan's Lovesong, which is being presented by Colne Dramatic Society at The Little Theatre this week. (s)

It’s easy to see why Colne director Steve Grist fell in love with this beautifully tender and poignant play as soon as he began to read the script.

Sweet and gently paced yet full of passion and anger, Abi Morgan’s Lovesong is perfect for The Little Theatre stage.

This week Colne Dramatic Society, with the direction of Steve and his wife Gilly in creative production, is doing a fabulous job of teasing out every little bit of the tale’s emotional power, from the characters’ unspoken resentments and quiet moments of fear to their explosive bouts of rage and panic.

Exploring the passing of time and the ghosts who return to haunt us, Lovesong tells of couple Billy and Maggie as they look back at the joys and woes of their 40-year marriage.

It is told from two different points in their lives: as young lovers in their 20s; and as worldly companions in their later years.

The Grists have shortened the show by stripping it of its original dance choreography to fit it on a tiny stage.

Despite this, the CDS rendition brims with elegance and glides in time, moving back and fourth over four decades.

The four actors weave seamlessly around each other on the stage, despite the fact it is taken up entirely by both a mock kitchen and a bedroom.

Thanks to its simpler production, the show zooms in on its powerful raw emotion while still giving the actors enough space to breathe and explore their characters in more subtle ways.

Neil Tranmer, a brilliant comedic actor, shows us a more serious side in the role of Billy, and as always he gives a strong performance, despite being a newcomer to The Little Theatre stage.

He has great on-stage chemistry Vivien Thornber - a familiar face to CDS audiences - who plays Maggie.

Vivien (pictured with Neil) proves exactly why she is cast again and again in leading roles with her powerful and moving depiction of a woman pinned down by anxiety and weariness.

Matt Whatley, also making his debut at The Little Theatre, is a natural on stage as a younger Billy (known as William) and showcases fantastic range: funny and charming in one scene, then charged with rage and fear in another.

Lauren Monk, as a younger Maggie (or Margaret), paints a nuanced picture of a restless wife full of unfulfilled yearning and dying passion.

And it’s not surprising to learn Matt and Lauren were already friends before rehearsals: they make for a convincing on-stage couple.

The set, created by John Mills, Tim Knowles, Joe Midgley and Mark Bithell, is simple but lovely and full of character.

Subtly heightening emotions with lighting, sound and props are Richard I’Anson, Paul Thompson and Janet Hewitson in the production team, which is completed by Jackie Williamson as prompt and Linda Midgley as front of house manager.

Colne Dramatic Society has done a wonderful job of bringing this moving tale to a more compact space, cutting audiences deeply with its gentle poignancy while following this up with more powerful blows of fear and anger.

Performances continue tonight to Saturday at 7-30pm nightly.

Tickets: 01282 861424.