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STAGE REVIEW: How Bond dodged a bullet – Aspects of Love

Jerome Pradon, Kelly Price and Felix Mosse in Aspects of Love. Photo: Pamela Raith. - Credit: Archant

TIM WALKER’s stage review of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s show Aspects of Love.

Two weeks before Aspects of Love first opened in the West End, Roger Moore dramatically withdrew from the cast, saying that he couldn’t cope with the technical demands of the singing. Three decades on, when I got to see Andrew Lloyd Webber’s show at the Southwark Playhouse, the penny finally dropped. Affable, charming man that Moore was, I reckon he must have decided it simply wasn’t much good, and used this as his excuse to politely disassociate himself from it.

I don’t blame the James Bond star as the show would leave just about anyone shaken and not in any way stirred. The Lloyd Webber score – ‘DER, der-der-der, DER-der-der, der-der-der’ – must have seemed passé even in the 1980s, but now it feels almost Jurassic. It’s true I still have the big numbers going through my head as I write this review, but never make the mistake of thinking that means a musical works. If it comes to that, I also can’t shake off the GoCompare theme tune, either, and no one would make any claims for that, beyond saying it’s intensely irritating.

Still, it’s interesting to think what Moore would have made of the role of George, the older man involved in a ménage à trois with the youthful French actress Rose (Kelly Price) and Alex (Felix Mosse), her youthful English lover. I have seen actors with Moore’s charm transform even the most unpromising material, but then that is what it is to be a real star.

The lesser-known Jérôme Pradon does what he can with the role, but is it believable that he has the personality – let alone the raw sex appeal – to win over Rose, and, more seditiously, Alex? To be brutally honest, no. This is a honed-down, bargain basement revival of Lloyd Webber’s least revived musical with no magnificent sets or star names, and its inherent weaknesses – and the empty soul at its heart – are all too manifest.

The David Garnett novel on which it is based is merely utilised by Lloyd Webber as a crude linking device for the big numbers. True, the best-known ones – Love Changes Everything, The First Man You Remember, Seeing is Believing, Anything But Lonely – are belted out with aplomb, and Richard Bates does what he can as musical director, but familiarity with some songs can sometimes breed contempt and contempt is what I started to feel as this over-long, sickly and self-indulgent production dragged on and on and on.

If anyone deserves a mention in dispatches it’s Kelly Price as Rose: she can act as well as sing, which is always an advantage in a musical, and, what’s more, she ages convincingly from the spirited ingénue of the first half to an altogether older and wiser grande dame in the second. I stumbled out into the cold night air with a sense that time has changed nothing about this awful musical. Sir Roger had dodged a bullet – and I was only sorry that it had to hit me eventually.