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Lovers Walk
Published on Sunday, 09 May 2010

A man and a woman with matching bags and umbrellas are waiting for us in Pavilion Gardens.  We’re dropped straight into the narrative, and I’m instantly gripped: the lovelorn Matt is trailing the unattainable Rosie, furtive yet somehow wanting to be seen.  And then, just as it’s getting really interesting, we’re on the move – striding towards the Lanes and the next episode in their embryonic romance.

Matt Odell and Rosie Waters are perfectly-cast as our narrators and guides, also stepping into character to play scenes from the courting couple’s lives.  He’s emotional, and lovably romantic; she’s a little kooky, though we soon discover she too has inner depths.  Yes, it’s a set-up lifted from a hundred thousand rom-coms, but it’s really none the worse for that.

Mind you, this isn’t a comedy.  There are funny moments of course, but at heart it’s a charmingly simple story of romance – told as we visit the spots where our two characters met, spoke, and quarrelled.  There’s a moment of crisis, there’s a separation, and we strongly suspect they’ll make up in the final scene.  But there’s still that gnawing fear inside: a worry that perhaps, in this play, we’ll be denied our happy-ever-after.

Many promenade (or walking-tour) plays let the acting take a back seat to the “experience”, so it was refreshing to see Odell and Waters treat their roles with the same commitment you’d expect on a stage.  Standing next to Odell during one crux scene, I had the chance to admire his impeccable characterization, while Waters seemed able to switch in a moment from dispassionate narration to the choking emotion of a character close to tears.

I had plenty of time, too, to admire a host of clever details, from the two actors’ subtly matching costumes to the tricks they employ to keep the audience safely in train.  In any promenade, the logistics are as important as the acting, and a lot of careful thought has gone into this one; each scene is designed to shepherd us to the next, one character striding ahead and the other bringing up the rear.

A couple of the stops were perhaps not best-chosen, with a too-crowded backdrop distracting attention from the play.  And it must be said that the very conventional plot contains no great message to learn.  But that’s OK; Lovers Walk is a sweet and enjoyable afternoon treat, and it doesn’t need to be more.  At one scene by the sea-front, a couple in the audience shot each other knowing glances, then quickly stole a kiss… and that, I thought, said it all.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.