Seen through the paradigm of a bride-to-be, a mother and son, or a brother and sister, A Brief Archaeology of Love tries to take on multiple tough themes simultaneously – with mixed success. Ellie Stewart’s A Different Country is heartbreaking, cleverly expressing the gradual onset of memory loss while emphasising the importance of public libraries and other services. Annus Mirabilis, by Sylvia Dow, is a sensitive examination of the pitfalls that elderly people face when dating. It is a refreshing glimpse into an aspect of life which, along with the struggles of pensioners in general, is too often ignored by our society. Finally, So Late, also by Stewart, is an excellent commentary on fearlessness and the nature of decisions.
However, some of the other plays seem to fall a little flat. Dow’s Looking for the One doesn’t quite work because of the actors chanting in unison: it detracts from what is otherwise a very effective poem about speed dating and the cringe-inducing romantic encounters with which almost everyone can sympathise. Furthermore, it feels like the show is slightly too long – none of the individual plays drag on particularly, but it seems as if the message gets somewhat repetitive towards the end.
The most pleasing aspect of this show is undoubtedly the actors. The combination of older and younger performers is excellent and puts new meaning into some of the scripts, examining how love shows itself in different walks of life. Although there are hits and misses in this show, the actors never fail to impress, and keep the pace moving along well. Thrawn Craws have created a slightly eclectic performance which is a pleasing combination of sorrowful and hopeful – much like love itself.