Ginger Hibiscus | Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: The Verb 'To Love' at the Old Red Lion Theatre
Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: The Verb 'To Love' at the Old Red Lion Theatre
Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: The Verb 'To Love' at the Old Red Lion Theatre
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03 May REVIEW: The Verb ‘To Love’ at the Old Red Lion Theatre

To love [luhv], verb (used with object), loved, loving.
1. to have love or affection for:
2. to have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for (another person).
3. to have a strong liking for; take great pleasure in.
4. to need or require; benefit greatly from.
5. to embrace and kiss (someone), as a lover.
6. to have sexual intercourse with.

verb (used without object), loved, loving.
7. to have love or affection for another person; be in love.

Verb to LoveDespite being a word that most people use most days, The Verb, ‘To Love,” is an oddly indefinable one, not least because it’s used to express such vastly different intentions, and is employed so widely all of the time. The love between adults is incomparable to the love between generations. Just as the love of a hobby is utterly unrelated to the love of a pet. In the context of this musical, love is exactly that: indefinable. An exploration of the different kinds of love, The Verb, ‘To Love’ is a tale of love gained and lost, of commitment and sorrow, of acceptance and celebration.

When Simon’s 23 year relationship with James slips away into a haze of despair, he’s forced to look at life afresh and reassess his priorities. But with a new place, and a new job, a new love threatens to engulf him – even if he’s “scared of being bitten by a dream that might just come true.” Ben’s gorgeous, he’s funny, he’s charming and he’s lovely. And he’s twenty years younger than Simon. How would Simon cope with Ben growing up by his side? And would Ben ever, really be interested in a man so much his senior?

Boasting a gorgeous set from Nik Corrall, the dark space above the Old Red Lion pub is transformed into an idyllic summers day, grass littered with flowers, with the sound of birds singing sweet affections to one other. It’s exactly the kind of place you’re transported to in that first flush of lust, where everything shimmers and smells beautiful, butterflies dance in the stomach and fingers tremble as they entwine. A fitting backdrop for this ride of emotion, its loveliness shines and smiles before turning into a mocking refrain.

Verb2In what’s almost a one man show, as Simon, Martin Neely delivers strong vocals with a remarkable degree of engagement, funny and believable as one man telling his story. This is never more true than in “Online Dating,” a hysterical and only-too-realistic recollection of some of the finer points of internet romance – and some of the more sordid ones – though the musical highlight comes when pianist Gareth Bretherton finally joins Neely for the duet we crave so desperately. A cry of anguish, it’s pretty and poignant, and definitely worth the wait.

What’s notable about The Verb, ‘To Love’ isn’t that it’s a musical about love between two men, or even that it considers lovers with a significant age gap, but that it looks at relationships – at love – in a universal light that everyone can understand and appreciate, in all its glory, and with all its blemishes glistening in the sunshine. It’s love that refuses to discriminate, love that’s transient, and love that might come and go – but what matters is that it happened.

Dates: 28th April – 23rd May 2015
Venue: Old Red Lion Theatre
For information and tickets:
Images: Claire Bilyard

Star Rating

Ginger Hibiscus don’t like using stars as a headline; we think they’re too reductionist, and that decision-making based on stars misses the point of a review. Just as you wouldn’t judge a personality using a five-point scale, theatre is multi-dimensional. So have a read, and then look at the stars afterwards.
Okay, fine, but how many stars do you give it? Click here