Oxford Stage Company, Love is a Drug

Review in Issue 7-2 | Summer 1995

Give 'em what they want! If it makes 'em laugh, bung it in!

This seemed to be the philosophy behind Love is a Drug. Based on a 16th Century Commedia scenario, the company seemed determined to include every fart, bum, tit and willy joke that they could find – all innuendos, of course – no swear words please, were 16th Century! Somewhat of a loose plot, plenty of mistaken identity, unrequited love, cunning plans (which automatically went awry), cruel, money-grabbing fathers and a happy ending – all in two hours! The audience loved it!

Italian Commedia guru Antonio Fava worked with the company for a couple of months, teaching them the techniques, stock characters and the movements, improvisation and mask work of Commedia dell'Arte. Bearing this in mind they coped remarkably well, giving the piece lots of energy and commitment. However, one felt they lacked the rigid discipline and depth of experience Commedia requires. Characters, instead of being distinctive in movement and reaction, merged into a ‘stew’ of Commedia cliches (the plot touched extreme obscurity and had to be explained in an unnecessary ‘behind the scenes’ episode). It lost its inventiveness, became too repetitious and felt about half an hour too long. That said, it was definitely worth going to see.

After the Oxford performance, Antonio Fava performed his solo show as a one-off, displaying a wonderful comic sophistication and control that set apart his genius.

Presenting Artists
Date Seen
  1. Apr 1995

This article in the magazine

Issue 7-2
p. 24