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LOVE @ The Blue Room gets 8/10


Love
@ The Blue Room Theatre

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

8/10

Finegan Kruckemeyer’s Love opened to a sell-out crowd at The Blue Room Theatre, which is awesome… But what made it extra special was that the performance was littered with the gleeful chuckles of children. It’s so easy to forget the kids when flicking through your Fringe guide, but Love is a perfect example of how the festival can be as family-friendly as it is feisty and filthy.


Entering the small performance space you’re greeted with subtle, soft lighting on a simple white backdrop. A soundtrack of You Are My Sunshine was being played along to by a charmingly almost in tune Ukulele. There are cushions on the ground and just when you think that the scene couldn’t get any more inviting, actor/producer Katy Keady warmly offers heart-shaped cushions to some of the young people and invites them to sit on the comfy area upfront.

Being a child-friendly production the cast kick off the show with beaming smiles and larger than life personas, as you’d expect. But this isn’t Play School. There’s some real weight here.


Love
tells the story of Oslo Rogers (Courtney Henri) and his “very fun Mum” (Katie Keady) preparing to head for shelter from a storm that threatens their community of Mellingong. As they ready the family milk float, taking with them only one item that’s special to them, one item that Mum refers to as “love luggage”, Oslo takes it upon himself to visit some of the quirky and diverse characters from around his neighbourhood, offering to transport their love luggage to safety.

This prompts a series of heartwarming, moral filled folk tales at each visit. These short stories offer beautiful insights into love, loss, acceptance, and friendship (among other things). The hugely entertaining Mararo Wangai and Holly Meegan transition seamlessly between characters with the aid of costume changes as simple as swapping a hat or donning the kind of disguise usually found in a photo booth at a party. Seriously, there was a moustache on a stick and it had the room in stitches.


The lighting and set were minimal. Bare white walls, 100 stacked milk crates, and a simple childlike animation projected onto the back wall. The cast’s ability to interact with the space and the people in it makes the most of those childhood imaginations and as the kids “Ooh!” and “Ah!”, the adults are taken along for the ride too.

One of the most engaging moments of the show is as the storm hits. The lights drop to darkness, broken up by white flashes of lightning and the sound of rain. Wangai and Meegan “woosh” around Oslo, the projection is grey with huge raindrops lashing across it and in the audience, every single child is still, utterly transfixed on the spectacle in front of them. A brilliant use of cast and AV by Clair Testoni.


This production of Love is a complete success. The adaptation of Kruckemeyer’s work by director Alexa Taylor and Eat Life Productions is as engaging as it is heartwarming. The subjects touched upon are some of the most important and difficult for young people to navigate, but Love tackles them with such care, humour and warmth that the messages are easily absorbed by even the youngest of the captivated crowd. A great afternoon out for the whole family.

TONY WESTWOOD