For All The Love You Lost ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Review by Tony Frame. Venue 53 The Space @ Surgeon’s Hall – Bevan Theatre

I’ll start by making it very clear that this is the kind of show I would have normally avoided. I dislike romantic comedies and love stories (in the general sense) of any genre; it’s solely just my personal preference and nothing else.

I chose to go see this show because it was one of the few that fitted in with my schedule for another show that I had pre-booked in advance, for later that evening. I expected nothing from this and barely read the blurb. I rarely read too much of the blurb anyway; I always like to be surprised and have no preconceptions beforehand.

From the outset, my concern that this was going to be an amateur production was raised because the relatively small stage was filled up with six (predominantly young) cast members. I reckoned they ranged from maybe late teens to mid-twenties. From past experiences of shows with a similar setup, I was expecting the actors to just robotically say their lines and for the choreography and blocking to be pedestrian at best.

My reservations continued as one of the cast started talking about the ocean and his immersion in the water as the piano played in the background; the music was far too loud and made it very difficult to hear what the actor was saying. I got the gist of what he said, others in the audience probably less so.

The crux of the story primarily concerns two singletons and their anxieties about going on a first date with each other. My apprehension about this being an amateur production (with a young cast out of their depth) was quickly put to bed after a few minutes in. As the two leads fretted about what they should wear and discussed whether or not they should actually go on the date, the dialogue was fresh and witty and was devoid of cliches.

And it didn’t stop there; the snappy and well-timed exchanges between the cast continued throughout the entirety of play, and it was aided with some nice touches of humour dispersed at just the right moments. The actors really animated their characters with little nuances of body language and expressions, bringing them to life, and they upped their performances to the fullest degree when it was required. It wasn’t just a case of saying their lines and moving on; they listened and empathised, and this was later illustrated even more when it moved to one of the more poignant scenes involving the two leads.

The pace of the show was excellent; there was a clever mix of short monologues from individual characters and the scene changes were fluid and expertly choreographed. No Act overstayed its welcome or dragged on for too long. And the directing made brilliant use of the stage and the lighting.

The cast of six and the characters they played were all quite different and likeable in their own unique way. I thought the relationship between the mother and her two daughters was endearing, whilst the intermittent scenes with the waiter and his boss added an extra complimentary layer to the piece as a whole. And despite the music still being loud in a few scenes (making it difficult to hear what the actors were saying) everyone projected themselves brilliantly and made themselves heard, clearly and concisely.

For All The Love You Lost is a simple tale, really, but done exceedingly well, with intuitive writing and insight into relationship anxiety, all led by a stellar cast. It was a highly polished production and an enjoyable experience all round and one of the highlights I’ve had at the Fringe so far.

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