When you fall in love with someone you create them, in a way: form them in the image of your wildest fantasies. Joel Samuels has written a gorgeously bittersweet gay love story that weaves togther a sharp-edged look at the deception that comes with love and the music of the great mythologised divas: Dusty Springfield, Barbra Streisand, Cher.
An onstage trio of female singers recreate their hits in occasionally faltering close harmony, soundtracking an unlikely romance between two very different men. Samuels himself plays Adam, neurotic owner of three separate pasta makers and a self-styled connoisseur of the finer things in life: Italian food, Rothko paintings and classic literature, as well as the most emotive outpourings of 1960s Motown. Damian (Daniel Ward) isn't giving much away, but he wants everything Adam has and more. His narrative of building up a whole new social identity is spliced with Adam's misery as the relationship crumbles: one story runs forward, the other backward.
In director Paul Smith's imaginative staging, the trio of singers step in as incidental characters, female friends: and stop in shock as the men recreate their memories in more palatable forms. Elsewhere, the piece's storytelling approach can feel static. Both men stand at their microphones, speaking out their tales of heartbreak and romance to the audience like torch songs that never quite caught flame. But Samuels' ingeniously twisting narrative is equally adept at capturing the thrill of first love and the shock as its embers are finally extinguished.