Love, Loss and What I Wore is about how our clothes hold our memories and expressions of ourselves and relationships – what we loved, hated, and the voices that shaped us. Twenty eight vignettes take us through fashion and life events over the decades that we can all relate to.

Written as a static piece for 5, Cochrane was so impressed with the quality of women at the auditions, he decided to make it a dynamic theatre in the square, splitting the script for a cast of 11. The actors brought the characters to life and he achieved his aim of using an intimate setting to bring the humour and pathos close enough to the audience that we felt we were part of the group.

Cochrane’s choreography was inspired – the diverse shapes he created in the space paralleled the notion of the range of women’s shapes and sizes; in addition to how past, present and future intersect… Solos, duos, triads, circles, diagonals, and clusters twirled, sashayed, strode, or roamed with delightful insouciance or palpable sadness.

I particularly admired the choreography for the bows at the conclusion of the show – spectacular synchronisation worthy of an Esther Williams movie. Clever and memorable.

This was a strong ensemble where eleven women with impeccable accents gave impressive performances. Meticulous attention was paid to each costume by the cast members, ensuring verisimilitude for every character they played. The actors demonstrated theatrical expertise with restraint and stillness appropriately juxtaposed with anxiety and distress.

I observed seamless work from the crew, and the lighting was noteworthy. A friendly welcome from front of house in Hartwell aprons for ease of recognition gave me a positive first experience of the Hartwell Players.

Particular moments that reverberate for me include Ana Della Rocca’s dramatic pose when she channelled ‘Carmen’; mesmerising sassy portrayals from Amy Coutts and Clare Hayes; and Anoushka Klaus’ stage presence. (I would have liked to hear a little more of her singing and guitar playing – the relaxed setting up for a morsel from this talented actor felt more like a crumb; but I do appreciate that it’s always tricky when there is so much to do and so little time) Kellie Tweeddale perfected the longing in her aptly self-deprecating Ginny; Kat Elliott was convincing with her touching vulnerability within her comedy; and Gabby Llewelyn Salter and Susan Rundle commandeered the stage with cool elegance and thoughtful delivery.

The director, Bruce Cochrane, and the entire cast – Kellie Tweeddale, Alison Campbell Rate, Amy Coutts, Clare Hayes, Anoushka Klaus, Jodi Sanders, Ana Della Rocco, Kat Elliott, Gabby Llewelyn Salter, Susan Rundle, and Kate Spruce ensured a satisfying evening. In a word to sum up, “brilliant” and I’d go again but unfortunately it was a short April run.

REVIEWER’S NOTE: I stress that only after I had completed my review, I discovered from Joanne Watt (VDL) that both Bruce Cochrane and Kellie Tweeddale have directed my nephew, 18 year old hip hop artist and lyricist Jacob Pugh in several plays. And so, synchronistically, my opinion has been reinforced.

REVIEW by Meredith Fuller

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