Review: What's Love Got To Do With It
Presenter: The Cutting Room Floor
By Rhys Tarling
What’s Love Got To Do With It is a stupendously performed affair that’s somewhat flawed due to a story that was a couple of rewrites away from being great. It’s a satirical piece intended to detonate directly in the heart of those corporations that don’t give a shit about you and will ruthlessly exploit every nuance of the human experience. What is the corporation exploiting in this context? Why, it’s heartbreak.
The play wastes no time in setting up the story: a pharmaceutical company boardroom is on the brink of releasing a cure for love called “The Remedy”. The five board members and their boss consider the ethical implications of releasing such a product. They find the perfect candidate to test the drug on – a 20 year old woman reeling from a harsh break up.
Are corporations an easy target? Sure, but the lines were funny, the delivery was perfect, and the pacing, breathless.
The five actors play the nameless boardroom members but they also slip into other, far different characters. They do so as quickly and as simply as you or I might flip a switch. It was damn impressive to witness. Jacinta Larcombe, Tristian Balz, Mariah O’Dea, Tristian McInnes, Phoebe Sullivan, and Zoe Hollyoak deserve all of the kudos.
They were aided by a terrific script (I must stress: half of a terrific script) that contained so many jokes and pointed jabs delivered with–and made funnier by–sweetheart smiles, that I’m sure I missed a couple of them because the crowd was laughing so hard. To put it plainly, the play just goes for it, having a go at everybody and everything; from the slimy, exploitative corporate folks to the pathetic, monotonous, and terrible things we’ll do to ourselves just to get over heartache. Between unprotected sex with strangers and an armful of drugs, maybe The Remedy isn’t the worst solution.
Of course it’s no kind of solution because pain is at the centre—or hovers at the edge—of our greatest joys. “No pain, no gain,” as the cliché goes. So if you can cure heartache then you can bet that love will be rendered meaningless.
What’s Love Got To Do With It stops dead in its tracks to spell this out to us.
It was somewhat jarring to be thrilled by a relentless satire only for it to immediately succumb to maudlinness. As the play reached its conclusion, all of a sudden I was expected to care about the interpersonal dramas and relationships that, frankly, had no real foundation. Or perhaps there were the makings of a foundation, but they were inadequate.
This isn’t to say the second half was bad – the actors gamely switched gears to the emotional scenes without a hitch and the dialogue itself wasn’t horrible. It’s just that it takes a certain kind of elegance (or, numerous rewrites) to balance serious character driven drama and seething satire, and it has to be said that this play drops the ball in that respect.
That the play switches its focus so rapidly to a different tone means that the satire isn’t well developed or observed beyond “corporations don’t have your best interests at heart”. Well, you don’t say. This leads me to suspect that director Rachel Woodward didn’t quite know what she wanted this story to be; it feels like the collision of two good, though under-baked, ideas.
That aside, she has done a terrific job with the performers and, though sparse in its sound, there are two instances where it’s perfectly used for entirely different reasons that won’t be given away here. Criticisms aside, this play is a fun and is worth your money and time.
I couldn’t shake the feeling that everyone involved with this production knew they had some good ideas and were content to leave it at that. I also couldn’t shake the feeling of pure joy that its delightful first half invoked.