Theatre review: Eternal Love

Abelard and Heloise, David Sturzaker and Jo Herbert. Pic: Comp
Abelard and Heloise, David Sturzaker and Jo Herbert. Pic: Comp
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FORMALLY titled as In Extremis, the 21st celebrations of English Touring Theatre brings the revival of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre’s critically-acclaimed production Eternal Love.

* * * * *


Though the title and poster may suggest that you’re investing in a Romeo and Juliet style romance, it’s not necessarilyy the main focus point of BBC’s Spooks writer Howard Brenton.

Set in 12th century Paris, Abelard is a philosopher and a controversial figure within the city andsoon begins a wild affair with his 17-year old student Heloise. Infamous for his outspoken criticism of authority and religion, Abelard is already on thin ice with the Church.

It’s only after a child is conceived out of wedlock that it becomes the scandal of the age.

Brenton’s script is a story that’s more dominated in ideas than the emotions within the relationship. There’s a lot of philosophical territory that this piece walks across within the debates between Abelard and Heloise and their opponent, Bernard of Clairvaux. The language that these characters use to fight their corner is dynamic in pace and presents many thought-provoking ideas and theories.

It appears heavy at first. However, Brenton’s script provides a twist in the language and characters that makes it easily accessible for audiences.

There’s a lot of ambition within this production that successfully brings the sort of entertainment you would expect from the Globe Theatre.

In amongst it is a great amount of comedy that is extremely well written and brings a modern edge.

David Sturzaker as Abelard and Jo Herbert as Heloise bring great rigour as these two ill-fated philosophical hellraisers, while understudy Kevin Leslie as Bernard shows a lot of passion.

A courageous and well-thought production which shows the dramatic strength of Brenton and proves history is not a thing of the past.

• Run ends Saturday