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Review: Love Love Love, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
LOVE Love Love puts the boot into the baby-boomer generation whose world began with their parents being told by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan that “most of our people have never had it so good”.
Playwright Mike Bartlett paints a humorously bleak picture that the children of the hippie revolution are doing nowhere near as well. They are experiencing a long winter of discontent; their parents may be in their autumn years but are still enjoying the summer of love, still having it so good in their big houses with many empty rooms.
Bartlett, a former Leeds University student, is 30 years old and part of the “debt-ridden and adrift generation” stumbling through Cameron’s coagulated Britain. He is in argumentative mood but makes for spiky good company.
Charting the progress of Kenneth (Ben Addis) and Sandra (Lisa Jackson) from pot-smoking Oxford students in ’67, to over-worked, play-away parents of teenagers in 1990 Reading, to divorced retirement in 2011, his three-act play “questions whether the baby-boomer generation is to blame” for this ennui.
The chief case for the prosecution/persecution is put in the play’s closing act by daughter Rose (Rosie Wyatt), by now a 37-year-old violinist still renting a flat, with her directionless 35-year-old brother (James Barrett) reduced to playing computer games, scarred for life as if he had returned from the trenches.
The reunited parents are too busy drunkenly kissing to All You Need Is Love to listen.
The wit is brittle, the dialogue caustic, the adult behaviour almost as selfish as in Noel Coward’s Hay Fever, and depending on your age, you may well take different sides in this zeitgeist generational clash. All will surely agree, however, that love isn’t all you need.
Love Love Love, Paines Plough, Courtyard Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, today, 2pm and 7.30pm; Hull Truck Theatre, Hull, May 17 to 21. Box office: Leeds, 0113 213 7700; Hull, 01482 323638.