Arts Review: The Love Sect

Spilt Milk, Tron, 6th March

The Love Sect had the potential to be intelligent, darkly funny, and illuminating. Spilt Milk’s rather vague description of what the show would entail hinted at a soul-searching voyage of intellectual discovery, but the play turns out to be more like an A-level drama showcase, complete with clichés, a predictable plot and underdeveloped dialogue.

Thankfully, the cast of seven has enough of a flair for comedy to somewhat redeem the material they’ve been given to work with, but they can only go so far in making up for its wholly wooden nature. The play is structured as a behind-the-scenes tour of a dystopian people-farm in which clients pay to have their perfect partner engineered. We witness this through the eyes of ‘Jack’, an unwitting civilian who acts as the moral conscience of the play. He displays all the standard responses of confusion, disbelief, anger and finally disgust with himself, when he realises that (PLOT TWIST!) he’s just as box-ticky as the rest of the Love Sect’s contemptible clients. At this point we’re supposed to look down at the deliberately shallow questionnaire we’ve been given upon taking our seats, and realise with pantomime horror that we’re no better ourselves.

The play seems to be obsessively trying to tick boxes of its own in terms of dramatic techniques, and the result feels somewhat superficial. There’s breaking of the Fourth Wall, engagement with multi-media, incongruous asides in which characters monologue about their motives, and caricatures who spew out one strained wisecrack after another. It’s just a shame that these techniques feel so laboured, because ultimately the message falls flat. The humour also lingers on race to a point where it’s slightly uncomfortable, and the attempt at meaningful social criticism at the end of the play is too abrupt and half-hearted to leave the audience with much to take away from the performance.

Ultimately, The Love Sect plays with an interesting idea, and does provide some food for thought, but so much more could have been made of it. This makes the play’s lack of impact all the more disappointing.

[Cat Acheson – @cat_acheson]

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