One doesn’t quite know where to start. Whether from the artfully fragmented structure of the play, the superb script, or the metaphysical set design? In a play about endings, big questions, and relationships, every little piece of it seems to fall in the right place.
Written by American novelist Don DeLillo in 2005, Love-Lies-Bleeding was revered by director Jack McNamara for a long time, before finding its UK premiere in this gorgeous production at the Print Room at The Coronet.
The stage is magnificently crafted into a sandy, desert landscape, dominated in the middle by a moving parquet platform and a maxi screen at the back. The screen is especially effective and atmospheric, as it is projected with both moving images and colours and shapes resembling Rothko’s paintings. Created byLily Arnold, the set design aloneis a source of a combination of intellectual and aesthetic pleasure.
A complex and deeply philosophical play, Love-Lies-Bleeding excels at drawing people into its narrative, mostly consisting of the threads of relationships, while tapping into the urging debate about the end of life. The main characters are Sean (Jack Wilkinson), Toinette (Josie Lawrence) and Lia (Clara Indrani), respectively the son, second and fourth wives of Alex (Joe McGann), a troubled artist whose life was characterised by artistic relentlessness and multiple weddings. That same life is now coming to an end: following a stroke he lives in an assisted vegetative state – he is in the “no longer and the not yet”. What, DeLillo asks, should his family do now? Is there such a thing as the right thing to do, for both Alex and for those who are left behind?
Consisting of one pleasurably intense moment after another, woven together like a fabric, the show lives and breathes thanks to its immensely poetical script. The debate is by no means easy, but there’s a touching, powerful sense of every-day-life to it. The play is not just thought-provoking – it’s paradoxically life-infusing in the way it explores the frontiers of life and meaning itself.
The cast delivers strong performances, only at times dotted with hesitations in American accent. Shout-outs to Clara Indrani for embodying the resilience of a young wife, attached to her husband with visceral, unconditional love, no matter what.
Beautifully orchestrated, Love-Lies-Bleeding combines the darkest chasms of human experience with the incomprehensible light of Ungaretti’s one-line poem, ‘M’illumino d’immenso’ (Immensity fills me with light).
The Print Room, Coronet
12 November – 8 December 2018