Review: Love Story, by Erich Segal, The Gallery Players, The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, until July 14

I’VE reviewed more shows than I care to remember over the last 17 or so years; this just may be the best I’ve seen - professional or amateur.

Told in flashback, it’s the tale of two seemingly mismatched lovers whose life together is cut cruelly short.

Director Steve Wooldridge sidesteps over exaggerating the inherent melodrama, letting poor pianist Jenny Cavilleri and rich lawyer Oliver Barrett IV’s tragic tale subtly play out.

Beautiful and heartbreaking in equal measure; it’s far from doom and gloom, it’s strangely uplifting. Due in part to Howard Goodall’s music and songs, more down to the performances.

The dialogue, especially between Jenny (Bronwyn Cooper) and Oliver (Joe Leat) zings from their first encounter. The whole cast were amazing but the chemistry between the two leads was like lightning caught in a bottle.

You believe every lingering look, every fun flirtation, every tear shed.

Both had great voices but it was the way they gave their all to their roles that tugged at your heart strings until they snapped. They have you rooting for them to live happily ever after even though you already know they don’t. Everybody was weeping by the final scene.

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The cast seemed surprised by their thoroughly deserved standing ovation; if I was them I’d get used to it.

WAYNE SAVAGE

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