The setup: a pianist bangs out jaunty show tunes and four performers with lapel-mics strut around stage singing songs documenting the adventures-in-love of a collection of disparate characters.
The four performers are excellent singers and dancers; the choreography was tight. The projections felt token (and unacceptably reminiscent of Microsoft clip-art) and the music sounded (to my ears) like an episode of Playschool, but the audience seemed to be enjoying it. As a whole, LOVEBites was well executed, which means I can focus my criticism on the work itself.
With no overarching narrative or characters, LOVEBites is a series of gags, and the gags are crap. The degree to which the script relies on profanities to get a chuckle from the audience is depressing (‘The Story of Annie Pluck’ is a particularly tedious journey through the land of a single punchline) and the pop-culture references (Facebook, George Orwell, Hollywood) are ham-fisted and awkward. Lines like ‘The Captain switches off the fasten seatbelt sign / To my delight she slips into the toilet midflight’ do not make for catchy choruses.
Maybe the genre doesn’t allow for subtlety, but I got pretty weary of every twist and turn of the story being shadowed so closely by the music. If someone’s sad, the music is sombre; if they’re happy, the music is jaunty. If there’s a punchline on its way, there’s a pause for the performer to turn and wink at the audience. You can more or less ignore the singers completely and you’ll still know exactly when to laugh. Surely it’s possible to use the music and lyrics to counter and comment on each other, rather than mirroring each other exactly?
Finally, a simple request: if a script ever calls for you to orgasm, please do it convincingly. A hasty ‘Ooh. Ooh. Ngg.’ while running your hand up and down your leg just doesn’t cut it.