Review: LOVE SCREENS, Open Ealing Online

A trio of short plays on love and life

By: Sep. 08, 2020

Review: LOVE SCREENS, Open Ealing Online Review: LOVE SCREENS, Open Ealing Online

Love Screens brings three short plays by Nicolas Ridley together in one pre-recorded Zoom presentation, with themes of love, loss, friendship, and life.

Open Ealing is an arts centre based in Dickens Yard, off Ealing Broadway. It is now in its tenth year of delivering creative projects and activities, and has recently started staging socially distanced live performances again.

In these three pieces, we meet the middle-class intelligentsia of west London, but only one of the plays, Besties, considers the reality of lockdown in any way. Claudia is trying to join the regular online chat she has with her friends, but have they moved on without her? A monologue performed by Sophie Morris-Sheppard, it introduces us to a woman who needs friends, routine, and a man in her life. She chats about her boyfriend Andy and her group of friends, but as they go their own separate ways, it seems that her only destiny is to be alone.

The strongest piece is Trees of Nature, in which Daisy and Simon go through their late teenage years misunderstanding each other, perhaps wilfully, and not really considering the other's point of view. There is music in this piece, which highlights a fine voice from Isabella Inchbald, and although the characters depicted are rather shallow and self-serving, I felt this was well-paced, thought-provoking and just the right length.

Four Sides of a Triangle is a much longer piece: a four-hander about friends who do not really know each other at all. Kate and Adam rub along together, but never really develop that romantic spark, while Jeremy, an interfering friend, with no concept of how irritating he is, contradicts other accounts of the situation, but it's hard to click with any of the group. Sarah Lawrie's Kate is well drawn, and Stephen Omer's Jeremy a classic creep, but this piece stops short of being memorable or particularly believable.

The three pieces are directed by Anthony Shrubsall and are beautifully filmed by Steve Haskett.

As a whole, Love Screens focuses on a small subsection of Londoners and presents their own insular worlds and preoccupations. The themes are universal, but the final work could withstand significant trimming and rewriting to make it more relevant to a wider audience.

Love Screens is showing via Zoom on 11 September at 7.30pm, with tickets available for £10.