The greatest passion can soon turn sour

Directed by the late Nigel Charnock – a founding father of contemporary British physical theatre – L.O.V.E grapples with the most famous literary ménage a trois in Shakespeare’s sonnets.

Divided between recitations of the texts and choreographed illustrations of the strange and familiar passions, it interprets the Bard’s words of love in bracing ways, lending new perspectives to the well-worn lyricism.

The cast members are clearly defined as the poet, the mistress and the young man who becomes their mutual fascination, and all three get their own readings of diverse sonnets. But Charnock’s vision is harsh: by the finale, the three are caught in a hostage situation – the certainty of early passion replaced by jealousy and doubt.

There’s a sense of repetition – the mood of the sonnets is filtered through the same dark filter: even the playful lines become ominous, and the lack of variation in tone unfortunately allows the show to drag. But Charnock’s intensity and imagination guides the three talented performers through a tempest of sex and despair

Assembly Roxy, 623 3030, until 26 Aug (not 7, 12, 19), 11.15am, £10–£12 (£8–£10)

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