Review: Lovesong at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans

Lovesong at the Abbey Theatre

Lovesong at the Abbey Theatre - Credit: Archant

Madeleine Burton reviews the Company of Ten’s production of Lovesong at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans.

Something strange happened in the Abbey Theatre Studio after Saturday night’s performance of Abi Morgan’s play Lovesong.

The four actors took their bow to enthusiastic applause, the lights came on – but instead of getting up to leave, the audience didn’t move for a minute or two.

Clearly that was a reaction to a bittersweet play that traces the marriage of Billy and Maggie by reference to their younger selves.

It looks at hope and anticipation, mortality and loss through the prism of one couple’s marriage.

I had heard that such an audience reaction had greeted Lovesong when it had been performed on the professional stage.

For the Company of Ten to get a similar response was a great achievement and one which tells you everything about not just the play itself but also the calibre of this production.

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As its name suggests, Lovesong is about enduring love, whatever the disappointments or temptations along the way.

We meet Maggie and Billy – beautifully portrayed by Angela Stone and Dewi Williams – as their long marriage is about to end in her death.

As their partnership, clearly built on love and friendship, slips away, they look back to their younger selves.

Zoe Coxon as Margaret and Oliver Sutton-Izzard as William arrive in their new American home, full of confidence that they can make a good life there.

And they do – but not without numerous disappointments along the way, not least their failure to have a child and his struggle to succeed in his dentistry business.

Zoe and Oliver brought a sweet freshness to the young couple who, even as they face the vicissitudes of married life, never waver from loving one another.

Lovesong brings the young and old couples together many times and director Sinead Dunne deserves praise for the way her cast handled that requirement.

Even the characters coming in and out of the wardrobe was pitch perfect – and I bet that required plenty of rehearsal.

Once again, the Company of Ten got it spot on by performing Lovesong in the intimate surroundings of the Studio and on a sparse but perfectly designed set.

• Lovesong runs until this Saturday, July 8, and tickets can be obtained from the Abbey Theatre box office on 01727 857861 or go to