Love All is a real ace

This is a tale, a terrifically (mainly) truthful tale of a tennis star, Vere St Leger who in 1879 was Ireland’s first finalist to compete in Wimbledon.

This is a tale, a terrifically (mainly) truthful tale of a tennis star, Vere St Leger who in 1879 was Ireland’s first finalist to compete in Wimbledon.

Presented by Cherry Wild Productions, Love All follows, relays and dramatises the historic account of this gentleman’s jaunt

through an Anglo-Irish upbringing to fleeting fanciful fame then too devilment, debt, dandy behaviour and questionable encounters with a feisty French dressmaker.

This is theatre sport in its prime, peak perfection of performance, both Aideen Wylde and Tadhg Hickey put on a show of high animated energy and stamina as they stage scenarios comprising of numerous playing characters. Like watching a high-speed tennis match, the audience was constantly entertained by the specific shifts between crucial moments in the narrative to tantrums off stage. In it’s own merit the story itself was full of intriguing potential but what makes it a highly enjoyable piece of theatre is the method of artistic execution. The art of storytelling is not a simple one and often is the case that witnessing eyes may wander, but at no point was the audiences attention allowed to deviate from the moment when Hickey and Walsh ushered punters into the theatre to the final freeze frame fanciful kiss.

This theatre troop is creatively powerful in their devising methods, from the efficient use of minimal props; a simple trunk not only presents an adequate place for a dead body but also becomes useful for obtaining such equipment as the essential tennis racket. The lighting also providing a strong point of mention, isolating spots created atmosphere and eased the audience attention away from the surrounds. The physicality of both actors, from slight but distinct facial gestures to full body contortions permitted clarity of different characters that kept the audience entertained throughout. Both Hickey and Walsh’s precision and sharpness at presenting different clichéd personalities at paced perfection was evidence of superb theatre skills and staging.

The script itself was just as playful as the performance, alternating alliteration with risky references to Shakespeare and other classics. It was obvious that in as much as the story was factually correct they were taking the literature literally. It was a play with and on words, a game that the audience was permitted to join. The fourth wall a traditional feature of theatre, was volleyed through, this element of the actors begin aware of the audience and at times interacting with them inspired a comfortable atmosphere and increased the laughter.

All in all and all in love it was a jolly good piece of theatre.

-reviewed by Ita Morrissey

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