Love review Alexander Zeldin


At the heart of distress and love, Alexander Zeldin’s Love, revived at La Commune-Aubervilliers as part of the Festival d’Automne, is deeply moving. The British director chisels away at reality. Sordid and sublime meet.

Love: a tragedy of the sensitive

Love, written and directed by the British playwright Alexander Zeldin, is divided into five scenes and five acts, and questions the tragic in order to strengthen life. In a refuge for people in emergency situations, women, men and children come together. Together, natives and foreigners, families and lonely individuals, live in this « Shelter » for those who can no longer pay the rent.

The stage is a communal room. Two tables, mismatched chairs, a sink in the courtyard and a toilet in the garden. The yellowed walls ooze damp. The ceiling is streaked with neon lights. A cold, sinister, anonymous, squalid world. But numbered doors soon open onto rooms and life. A British man in his fifties and his sick mother, a pregnant couple with two teenage children, a Sudanese refugee who has left her child behind, a Syrian man passing through. All this fragile, limping humanity struggles against adversity and reaches out to us, the viewers.

Without pity or complacency, these vibrant slivers of reality paint an unvarnished picture of a society that has forgotten its own. The tragedy of these ordinary people is punctuated by the beating of a tree branch as it knocks on the door of destiny, and yet offers us the chance to hear the powerful echo of love.

Cut and fittings

Alexander Zeldin‘s direction is based on a cinematographic dynamic in which the spectator’s eye is often called upon to make the connections between the different scenes and character movements (Marcin Rudy). The fluidity of the sequences reinforces the effect of reality. Life seems to be captured in its very movement. At the same time, the lighting (Marc Williams), deliberately cold and raw, is sharp. The stark cuts to black isolate the five scenes with an equally stark return to the pale neon light. The direction of the actors is pushed as close as possible to intimacy and the right emotion. Carried by stunning actors, the situations of latent violence and humiliating promiscuity reveal their heartbreaking truth.

The actors embody both the extreme fragility of those who have lost everything and the strength of those left with love. Supported by the tri-frontal set-up that places part of the audience on the stage, they reach out to us. We become one with them. At the end, you have to see Anna Calder-Marshall* cross the audience. Magnificent, fragile, on the verge of distress and exhaustion, luminous and tragic, our hands can’t help but support her. A great moment, silent, full of emotion.


Alexander Zeldin’s Love is a poignant show that shakes you up and haunts you long afterwards.

Seen at the Ateliers Berthier, as part of the Festival d’Automne à Paris, in 2018. Actress Anna Calder-Marshall is no longer part of the cast.

Les LM de M La Scène : LMMMMM


 La Commune- Aubervilliers du 15 au 22 octobre 2022

texte et mise en scène Alexander Zeldin

avec le Festival d’Automne à Paris et l’Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe
avec la participation de la Ville d’Aubervilliers

en anglais, surtitré en français —

distribution Amelda Brown, Naby Dakhli, Amelia Finnegan, Oliver Finnegan, Sandy Grierson, Joel MacCormack, Hind Swareldahab (en alternance avec Mouna Belghali), Temi Wilkey, Grace Willoughby

scénographie et costumes Natasha Jenkins
lumière Marc Williams
son Josh Anio Grigg
travail du mouvement Marcin Rudy
assistance mise en scène Elin Schofield
assistance costumes Caroline McCall

Want to read another M La Scène review of a show at the Odeon Theatre? You might also be interested in this review Jours de joie directed by Stéphane Braunschweig

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