No Love Songs ★★★★ Southwark Playhouse, Elephant | June 4 - 15, 2024


Contrary to the suggestion of the title, this show proves to be a very tender love story which deals with the trauma of postnatal depression. Lana and Jessie meet in typical romcom fashion as their eyes lock across a crowded room. However, what follows as they encounter the challenges of parenthood proves to be a harrowing journey. Dealing simultaneously with her emotional rollercoaster after the birth of their son and the demands of his career in music threatens the relationship that started out so full of love and optimism. We are told that postnatal depression is a condition that affects one in five women, and its devastating effects are exposed here with remarkable sensitivity and sincerity. At various points, Lana cites the comfort of journaling as one of the methods for dealing with her condition, and Laura Wilde and Johnny McKnight's book rings with an authenticity that has to come from such a chronicle. Early in the piece, Lana also points out that we all have songs which we identify with notable moments in our lives, and Kyle Falconer's score provides several new numbers that no doubt will become memorable and significant for many members of the audience. As Lana and Jessie, Anna Russell-Martin and John McLarnon consummately capture the anguish, strength and compassion of the two principals, and their song stylings and harmonics are simply a delight. They ensure that the emotional odyssey of their characters will be etched in memory long after the audience leaves the theatre. No Love Songs is an intense piece of issue-based theatre that has a lovely score, and with its exceptional performances, it is bound to create a powerful impression.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

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