Such is the reputation for the Fringe’s weirder, more off the wall shows that sometimes the strangest thing of all is to see something that feels…well, just like a classic piece of theatre. Love, Loss and Chianti is very much that, elevated by a zippy, poetic text and two consummate lead performances.
Two shows, effectively. The first a portrait of a man grieving his wife, getting lost in the warring memories of a holiday in Greece, the last days of her life in a hospice, and the home they shared together. The poetry of the script is tight, but maybe ill-suited to a character who you feel should be on the rack a little more. While there is incredible control in the language, the contral jars with the grief being portrayed.
The second show, in which a slightly more pathetic character tries to roll back the years in a Soho restaurant with an old flame, fits better. The animated backdrop perfectly transports you through London’s nooks and alleys into this faded cafe, and a moment towards the end where our protagonist drunkenly stumbles into the belfry of the establishment, mirroring his own state of spiritual decline, is really strong. The choice to make him a faded poet, someone whose work never quite managed to capture the strength of his emotion, almost acts as a meta-critique of the show’s first half, intentionally or otherwise. The two parts don’t fully connect, but there’s still lots to enjoy here.