No Love Songs is a glorious thing. Just as much gig as it is theatre, it’s a love story about struggling to get by alongside someone you love. Created by Scottish musician Kyle Falconer (founder of band, The View) and his partner Laura WildeNo Love Songs tells the story of guitarist Jessie and shop worker Lana who meet at a gig, get subsequently sweaty and should live happily ever after. Except… they have a baby and in the moment it takes for sperm to meet egg, all their priorities change.
The play’s a happy blend of dialogue and foot-tappable songs from Falconer’s newest album, woven into a captivating narrative. A lovely economical script created by Wilde and leading Scottish playwright, Jonny McKnight sketches out Lana and Jessie’s heart-clutching courtship before we fast-forward to their baby’s caterwauling birth where the initial elated hormonal flood of love is captured in a beautifully heartfelt song. So far, so boy-meets-girl but the sucker punch is dealt when Jessie (John McLarnon) heads off on tour and Lana’s initial confidence that she’s coping gradually erodes. It’s a total spoiler to mention mental ill-health but this is hands down one of the most convincing depictions of the creeping horror of trying not to drown in depression that this reviewer has seen.
This is a taut, tight production, elegantly directed by Dundee Rep‘s artistic director Andrew Panton and Associate Director Tashi Gore. A compact set featuring all the right band kit (Leila Kalbassi) provides a perfectly apposite landscape for the unfolding story. McLarnon has all the boyish charm and rakish (vaguely unreliable) twinkle you’d expect from a wannabe rockstar. Dawn Sievewright as Lana is down to earth, funny, feisty, knows her own mind, and has a gorgeously wistful vocal quality) so her subsequent struggles are doubly shocking.
No Love Songs is a brilliant depiction of one couple’s relationship and their relationship with mental ill-health that’s delightful and devastating in equal measure. Bangin’.
No Love Songs