Love is a many splendid thing. It’s also bloody complicated. And, as Lovers & Other Stranger shows, can be bloody funny. Running at The Cockpit until Friday 14th August as part of the Camden Fringe, Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna’s (Tally Ho) production is a set of short comedy vignettes from eight couples in 1970s New York.
Whether it’s a ‘transitory frolic’ or a third of a century long marriage, the trial and tribulations are the same. The world is no longer a case of hunter gatherer paired with the nurturer (‘John, I have to tell you that the buffalo have gone’) and expectations have shifted, but happiness, love and contentment are still the aim for the couples. It’s a process of change, of becoming ‘deeper strangers’ and one that we all recognise. It’s the immediacy and recognition that makes this play so humorous at the same time as it is tender and poignant.
As well as relationships the position of men and women is explored. Brenda, a young woman finding herself in the situation of a one night stand feels empowered by the writings of Simone de Beauvoir and other feminist writers, Hal’s assertion that the man is in charge whilst Wilma attempts to entice him into bed, and Bea’s belief that her long marriage was sustained by her care for husband Frank. The production was not overtly feminist, but aware.
The characters are very human – flawed and funny – wanting more but coming up against the barriers of life and love. It’s not a moralising play by any means, but does provide food for thought, empathetic and provocative. It’s power is in presenting what we already know. Whether it’s the good or the bad, in love and life we learn.