The wonderful Tmesis theatre has always been inspired and intrigued by love and human relationships. Thinking about past performances – the titular Tmesis, The Dreadful Hours, and what may have been the birth of this most recent project, their short 2013 Homotopia piece Variations of the Heart – searching for and putting a finger on the very stuff of life has been a very common theme of exploration.
The company’s full length performances, though, have up to now been the work of one or both of the founder members Elinor Randle and Yorgos Karamalegos. That’s Amore, however, opens up the floor for four new performers – Adam Davies, Eleni Edipidi, Jennifer Essex and Ross McCall- to take the reins (Randle directs). Which I admit had me ever-so-slightly sceptical, as well as the title of the show, which sounded a little cheesy. And it was, in part – but in the best possible way. Knowing, but never without a sense of real joy, That’s Amore was engaging and entrancing from the very start – even being picked on by rampaging cast members (normally the stuff of nightmares) was a hoot.
There were three main elements to the performance – an hilarious club scene, to represent those hedonistic early days of attraction and lust; a highly entertaining homage-slash-physical-theatre-parody of a number of classic rom coms; and a final act, the end of the affair. These pieces were all held together with the recognisable narration of the script of Tmesis’s long-time collaborator Chris Fittock, offering stark and bittersweet explanations of the biology behind the science of attraction – attempting to describe in words what the performers seemed to belie in the passion of the deed.
Seventy minutes of beautiful movement, belly laughs, wit, wisdom, silliness, sopiness and sadness saw all the bases covered and then some. The four performers were quite exemplary in their physicality, tenderness, energy, charm, and dare it be said distinctly northern comic timing. Every moment of That’s Amore was something to savour.