Made From Love
Camden People’s Theatre
Reviewed – 30th January 2020
“brave, and at times heartbreakingly raw”
Made From Love’s portrayal of the almost madness that a couple go through when they find themselves in a position of unplanned pregnancy is, at times, raw and honest. Matthew Coulton and Linn Johansson’s devised piece explores their journey in a shared stream of consciousness; they allow the audience in on their panic and although this sometimes came across as a little disjointed, there were flashes of true humanity which were awe-inspiring. With moments of physical theatre scattered between rap, voiceovers, ventriloquism and genuine moments of profound stillness and honesty, the play carries the audience through the couple’s whole process as they work their way through the decision of whether they should keep their baby or to have an abortion.
Coulton and Johansson shone in moments where they broke away from the hectic atmosphere that the play inherited. It was the times that they they stood still and spoke freely to one another that captured the true meaning of the piece, and this was done brilliantly. There was a real vulnerability in this stillness which was heart-breaking and showed a great deal of skill and commitment from the actors. This was mirrored in them remaining bare foot throughout the performance, suggesting further their vulnerability and connection to the earth and each other. Unfortunately, these moments were too few and far between and the contrast between these moments and the rest of the play was vast.
The pair try to do too much at once, without allowing the play to explore any angle that it tried to go down. Perhaps this was their intention; to show the nonsensical nature of thought when it comes to such an important decision, but this wasn’t made clear enough to be effective. The moments portraying madness were short and loud, including a shrieking wig in a Jerry Springer interpretation and an Artuadian-esque breaking of a biscuit into a microphone, acting as a potential metaphor for a miscarriage. These moments were, it seemed, intentionally harrowing and confusing, but with each moment of ‘madness’ Coulton and Johansson adopted a new technique, leaving the show feeling uneven and unfinished.
The set was minimalistic, with a doll’s house placed in the centre of the stage and two microphones. The doll’s house was used as a seat, a prop store and also, perhaps, a representation of how small and meaningless the material world is when you are faced with the creation of another life. If the latter was the intention, they did not allow this to develop or use the prop to its full potential, again, leaving the play feeling unfinished. There is a quite beautiful moment where the actors brought white balloons with a small light into them onto the stage. It was clear that there was thought behind this moment, but it was explained in a heavy metaphor that provoked intrigue, but didn’t make enough sense, or seem relevant to the show.
Made From Love is brave, and at times heartbreakingly raw, but it feels as if it has been put together without any clear narrative arc which left it feeling manic and unfinished.
Reviewed by Mimi Monteith
Made From Love
Camden People’s Theatre until 1st February
Previously reviewed at this venue: