Love Me xx
Featuring: Leanne Marsland
Director: Gary Young
Music Director: James Simpson
Venue: La Boheme
There’s a line. It’s a line that – once crossed – you’ve gone from just liking someone to being unhealthily obsessed with them.
About two minutes into Love Me xx it’s clear that Leanne Marsland‘s love-infatuated ingénue has no inkling this line even exists. She’s crazy in love, possessed by it. Her intensity and desperation make all who fall under her gaze shift uncomfortably in their seats. Then there’s the siren-like seductress who steps off the stage to enchant the men in the audience; cooing, rattling off one affectionate pet name after another. Then there’s that elegant red satin scarf, twisted and pulled taut between clenched fists – all the better to strangle you with, if you dare to break her heart. (At this point in the show, a gentleman in the front row coughed rather nervously.)
It’s a testament to Marsland’s unflinching portrayal that she evokes these reactions from the audience. We all feel trapped in her web of delusion, unable to look away from what will undoubtedly be an emotional train wreck. As for her vocal performance, she delivers the goods there too. It’s an eclectic mix comprising The Police (yes that famous stalker-anthem), Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Jeff Buckley, Ella Fitzgerald and Imelda May amongst others. At times I wished her voice had a touch more rich, dark velvet to it. But Marsland’s characterisation was pitch perfect and the songs well chosen and integrated. Tom Lehrer’s The Masochism Tango in particular is wickedly good.
Don’t expect too many insights into the human condition, or an attempt at explaining the tangled complications of love. There’s no hope or comfort in the conclusion. It is good fun though, and Marsland is an admirably committed, charismatic performer.