Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester – until 9 August
Review by Angela Hazeldine
One of my favourite things about Hope Mill Theatre (which also happens to be one of my favourite theatre’s full stop) is waiting in the bar area to walk through the doors to the theatre, you just never know what’s waiting for you on the other side of those doors. It seems like a completely different place every time and this time was no exception.
The set for Aspects of Love was the best yet, absolutely gorgeous. The front row seats set up as if in a Parisian Cafe instantly make you feel part of the action and the rest of the set somehow has both an intimate feel but also with clever lightly and stunning use of silhouette it can also feel vast. ‘Love Changes Everything’ is the shows opener and where we meet Alex Dillingham (played by Felix Mosse). I had a great big smile on my face during this song, I just thought Felix sang it beautifully, he has a real softness to his voice initially that does give way to those belting high notes but a lovely amount of light and dark. Then we meet Rose Vibert (played by Kelly Price). She absolutely bursts onto the stage and you can’t take your eyes or ears off her from then on. An absolutely stunning performer and I could listen to her sing all day. ‘Anything but Lonely’ showed what a fabulously detailed, complicated character she builds throughout the show, you feel the desperation, sadness and regret with every note.
The ensemble performers in the show are flawless, every scene transition is fluid, balletic and feels part of the atmospheric build up rather than just getting us from one place to another. The set pieces they perform both at the Fairground and the Circus are an absolutely joy, an antidote to what is a heartbreaking story of love, too much, not enough, manipulative, dangerous, complicated love.
I don’t know whether it was a fear of maybe being too overpowering in what is perhaps a more intimate theatre but there were times where the male performers seemed to hold back or were even too quiet to hear at times, particularly during harmonies when you wanted there to be a swell of sound that didn’t quite happen.
Overall this show is wonderful, there are so many detailed, innovative moments that I haven’t seen in a musical before and don’t want to talk about too much, you need to see yourself. Excellent performances from every single person on that stage. Not just on the stage either, the musical team which I was impressed to find out was made up of just three people! (Musical Director and Piano 1 Gareth Bretherton, Piano 2 Jonathan James and Percussion Phil Steventon) were flawless and made a fullness of sound that could have come from three times that amount of musicians.
There’s too many people to mention, the Direction is wonderful (Jonathan O’Boyle), the set and costumes (Jason Denvir) couldn’t have been better I don’t think and the list goes on. It’s clear that there is an incredibly talented team behind this show and I highly recommend you go and see for yourselves .
Well done Joseph Houston and William Whelton of Hope Mill Theatre and Katy Lipson of Aria Entertainment for bringing this sumptuous, engaging show to Manchester. The standing ovation at the end was a testament to everyone’s hard work and passion.