Review: Love Story, Octagon Theatre

“What can you say, about a girl…”

Just a quickie for this most beloved of shows. The CFT production of Love Story that failed to take the West End by storm back in 2010 was a thing of sheer loveliness and Howard Goodall’s luscious score has to rank among my all-time favourites, I really do think it is that beautiful. So all future productions have a high benchmark to live up to – there was a low-key version at the Brockley Jack last year and this year, we have Elizabeth Newman’s production for the Bolton Octagon.

And what a lovely thing it is. Unafraid to be delicately simple and flirting with actor-musicianship in Ciaran Bagnall’s cleverly designed set, it is a deeply musical take on the soaring romance of the story that glides speedily through the relationship between Daniel Boys’ college jock Oliver Barrett IV and Lauren Samuels’ wisecracking musician Jennifer Cavilleri. From the chemistry of their ‘opposites attract’ first meeting to the heartbreaking sadness of the end, it’s a beautiful piece of work.

Boys and Samuels both do extremely well in rounding out their characters into believable personalities that one can believe could really connect in this way, and do the things they have to do in the name of love. Samuels in particular nails the dramatic heft of her late scenes with such emotion that is as devastating as it is precise, ensuring the story’s reputation as a weepy remains intact and there’s excellent work too from Matthew Woodyatt as her grieving father. 

Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 12th July

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