Review Roundup: Critics Visit ASPECTS OF LOVE, Starring Michael Ball

The cast stars Michael Ball as George, Laura Pitt-Pulford as Rose, Jamie Bogyo as Alex and Danielle de Niese as Giulietta.

By: May. 26, 2023

The reviews are in for Andrew Lloyd Webber's Aspects of Love in London's West End! See what the critics had to say!

The cast stars Michael Ball as George, Laura Pitt-Pulford as Rose, Jamie Bogyo as Alex and Danielle De Niese as Giulietta.

The cast is completed by: Rosemary Ashe (Elizabeth), Anthony Cable (Ensemble) Vinny Coyle (Hugo), Chumisa Dornford-May (Ensemble), Soophia Foroughi (Alternate Giulietta), Dickon Gough (Barker/Ensemble), Ben Heathcote (Co-Barker/Ensemble), Eu Jin Hwang (On Stage Swing), Daniel Jagusz-Holley (On Stage Swing), Linda Jarvis (Ensemble), Natasha O'Brien (On Stage Swing), Joanna O'Hare (Ensemble), Michael Matus (Marcel), Anna Unwin (Jenny) and sharing the role of Young Jenny are: Indiana Ashworth, Millie Gubby and Katie Mitton.

Houeman Barekat, The New York Times: This “Aspects of Love” is exquisitely produced and superbly performed, but — like many a real-life libertine — it eventually buckles under the weight of its excesses.

Cindy Marcolina, BroadwayWorld: 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.

Arifa Akbar, 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.

Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out London: Ultimately the story of ‘Aspects of Love’ is probably best viewed as a relic of a different era, when people did actually cop off with their teenage cousins and the British were only just fumblingly acknowledging that sex was a thing. If you can stomach that then the nice music and lovely Michael Ball will help ‘Aspects of Love’ go down more smoothly. But really it would probably be easier for everyone if this is the last time we try to rehabilitate this thing.

Marianka Swain, London Theatre: Is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1989 musical about libido-driven bohemians fit for purpose in 2023? That’s the big question asked by this lavish West End revival of Aspects of Love, in which changes have been made to the score, book and lyrics (by Don Black and Charles Hart). And yet much has stayed the same, too, for better or worse.

Nick Curtis, Evening Standard: It’s hard to see why Andrew Lloyd Webber thought this creepy and downright silly chamber musical was a good idea in 1989, let alone ripe for revival now. A story of postwar, would-be bohemians engaged in cross-generation, borderline-incestuous romances within their own family and social circle, its characters are thin and dislikeable, its plot preposterous. The lyrics, by Don Black and Charles Hart, veer from the sophisticated to the unintentionally cringeworthy. The mostly sung-through score is adapted from the novel by Bloomsbury Group-shagger David Garnett. Supposedly a celebration of love in all its forms, it ends up tarnishing even paternal affection with ‘ick’

Sam Marlowe, The Stage: What a gooey, oozy, gaudy box of stale chocolates this is. Based on a 1955 novella by David Garnett, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical made its first West End appearance back in 1989, before flopping spectacularly on Broadway the following year. This revival is, frankly, mystifying. It’s not just that the sung-through show is thinly written, mawkish and meandering; it’s not just that the music is Lloyd Webber at his most blandly saccharine or that the lyrics, by Don Black and Charles Hart, are trite – although all those things, unfortunately, are true. What’s most howlingly problematic is the plot: a textureless glob of sexist cliche that surely must have seemed faintly nauseating even three decades ago, and now looks creepy and, at its most flagrant, startlingly offensive. 

Theo Bosanquet, WhatsOnStage: Perhaps one day there will be a boldly revisionist revival that proves Aspects of Love has merit beyond its central ballad. But as it stands the story is too problematic, and the characters so unempathetic (it’s never a good sign when the audience laugh during a death scene), that it feels best to consign it to the occasional concert performance. However, it does at least provide the opportunity to pay homage to one of our greatest musical performers singing an undoubted modern classic.

David Benedict, Variety: For that scene and the whole queasy, quasi-romantic story to work, you need emotional truth. But despite the cast’s sincere efforts there is scarcely a speck of that for them to work with. In the sung-through score (no bookwriter is credited; the text is the work of lyricists Don Black and Charles Hart) they are left to sing rambling expository dialogue at one another and emote, giving audiences little to connect with. Lloyd Webber can and does lace lines from the show’s two big tunes, “Love Changes Everything” and “Seeing Is Believing,” through his score all night, but it doesn’t compensate for the lack of believable drama. And that’s before you get to the sexual politics.

Patrick Marmon and Veronica Lee, The Daily Mail: Alas, though, too much hinges on John Macfarlane's stunning, ever shifting scenery: whisking us from a Parisian bar, via a railway carriage, to a sunkissed terrace in Provence — beyond which lie mountains painted in the style of Cezanne. And let's not forget views of Venice's Grand Canal. Much love has been poured into this Aspects by all involved, and thankfully its sweetest moments make it worth the effort.

Greg Stewart, 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.


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