We take a look at what critics have had to say about this revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical.
Broadway World: *** “Kent’s direction is interesting but leans into melodrama, with Ball offering some glitzy big-name introspection and the plot itself overflowing into sexual ambiguity and implied promiscuity. Aspects of Love is, essentially, an indefensibly problematic musical soap opera that looks exquisite but didn’t need to be revived. The cohesively taut score doesn’t allow for any truly catchy tunes that will be whistled on the train back home, the ending is still deeply anticlimactic and flat, and the themes are incredibly questionable, but the production looks and sounds unfortunately gorgeous. It remains an unjustifiable choice.”
The Guardian: ** “It is, without doubt, a well-oiled show, easy on the eye and ear. John Macfarlane’s gliding screens reveal gorgeous sets and the voices are strong across the board. But for all its smoothness, there is a preposterousness to it.”
Time Out: *** “Even in a toned-down new version, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s wildly problematic 1989 musical leaves me unsure how to rationally respond to it. Part of me thinks I should be trying to whip up a pitchfork-wielding mob to drive it out of town. Another part of me thinks… eh, it’s quite good fun if you can avoid thinking too hard about what’s actually going on.”
Variety: “Director Jonathan Kent’s earnest, peculiarly cluttered production is initially characterized by John Macfarlane’s beautifully old-fashioned, painterly Manet-meets-Cézanne backdrops and wing-pieces that feel like something from a mid-century ballet. But against them come naturalistic set-pieces and lonesome doorframes that slide on via turntables. And for the umpteen transitions, tall, slim screens glide across the stage like screen-wipes displaying distractingly different, hyper-realist close-up images ranging from location-setting photos to a (worryingly out of focus) video of a guttering candle. The resultant collective stage picture is stylistically at war with itself, leaving first-rate lighting designer Jon Clark with the thankless task of trying to unite the conflicting styles to create something approaching a consistent mood.”
Musical Theatre Review: **** “People say ‘Love Changes Everything’ is the only good song in the show but this revival says otherwise, the sweet, romantic early Alex-Rose duet ‘Seeing is Believing’, ‘Other Pleasures’ with Ball and ‘Anything But Lonely’ from the flawless Pitt-Pulford are three more that work beautifully. And musical director Cat Beveridge’s orchestra, high up above the stage gives full value to a ravishing, sumptuous score.”
Evening Standard: ** “On the plus side, the music, weaving endlessly around the big numbers Love Changes Everything and Seeing is Believing, is lushly romantic, and Jonathan Kent’s staging is both briskly efficient and stylish. Michael Ball – whose idea this new production was – plays the old rival to the young lover he played in the original, and duly belts out one big, crowd-pleasing, front-of-stage top note. He’s matched by strong voices across the board. But just when you think you are enjoying it, a new lapse into buttock-clenching bad taste pulls you back.”
Page to Stage Reviews: “The story behind Aspects of Love may just about have been acceptable in the 1980s, but in 2023 it doesn’t hold up. While the fantastic cast act out their hearts and there is a one iconic and memorable song that received a roaring round of applause from the largely older audience at the Lyric Theatre, it’s just not enough to sweep new audiences off their feet. Andrew Lloyd Webber has always had a fascination in his shows for obsession and unusual romantic relationships. But while some, such as Phantom, have stood the test of time, this one is best left in the past.”
London Theatre.co.uk: *** “You can certainly admire the efforts made here while also questioning the wisdom of trying to stage such an inexorably dated – albeit occasionally beguiling – piece. But what might have resulted from this talented company putting the same creative and financial resources into a new piece of work? That’s the change we really need to see.”
Theatre Weekly: “If love really does change everything, perhaps it should have started with the plot, which will baffle some new audience members, but those who remember the original will undoubtedly revel in seeing it return in a reworked and modernised production, with the return of Michael Ball to Aspects of Love being a wonderful full circle theatrical moment.”
The Reviews Hub: ** 1/2 “While some may watch the final scenes through their fingers, at least the voices of all the performers are top-notch lending some class to the proceedings. As Alex, Jamie Bogyo is in excellent voice, and gives his character some depth, especially in the first half where Alex’s greenness is charming.”
The Stage: * “Michael Ball stars in this mawkish revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical about a love triangle.”
West End Best Friend: *** “Punctuated with some funny moments, this story of love and heartache across three generations feels very of its time. If you can enjoy it as such, then you’ll be rewarded with an absolutely spectacular rendition of ‘Love Changes Everything’ whilst taking comfort in the fact that we’ve all moved on.”
The Arts Desk: *** “Yet, working with some often bizarrely literal-minded lyrics from Don Black and Charles Hart, Lloyd Webber weaves a seductive musical web, motifs reshaped rather more cunningly than can be his wont. The score finds room not just for the expected swooniness (“Seeing is Believing” for Alex near the start) but for a torch song (Rose’s climactic “Anything But Lonely”) that here finds our tremulous heroine on the verge of a breakdown: the solo is the high point of a vocally assured turn from Pitt-Pulford, who must corral sympathy for a tricky character whose affections change, as do Alex’s, on a dime.’
iNews: **** “This is not your typical overblown West End musical – and is all the better for it. Instead, it is a stylish chamber piece: our first glimpse of the under-used ensemble comes after a whole 40 minutes. Jonathan Kent’s sophisticated production has a charmingly stripped-back staging, with a beautiful design from John Macfarlane that includes large Vanessa Bell-style painted backdrops.”
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