Review By Michelle Sutton
Love Addict written by Fran Bowick and directed by Isaac Owen has loads of enthusiasm and promising ideas that don’t quite come to fruition. Opening in a love addicts meeting, we are placed into a familiar context with the expected collective drawn out “hi” and “thanks for sharing” as Guy introduces himself and recalls his tale of woe and suffering to his fellow love addicts. I expected the story to be a romantic comedy of sorts, possibly following Guy’s journey to a healthy relationship with a significant other or himself. The play ended up taking many turns I was not expecting at all, which certainly kept things fresh but may have been slightly too ambitious in the end.
Only a few months into his fresh start down the coast, Guy falls into old habits, feeling compelled to rescue a young woman he believes must be his soul mate and ‘inspiration’. He drives hours to the commune where she is living and ends up meeting a whole cast of eccentric characters including a charismatic man referred to as ‘the guru’ (Andrew Miatov) and a lovesick secret agent (Antoine Razouk), who provides many comedic moments. There are a number of serious scenes between Guy and his daughter Cassie, played sincerely by Clara Harrison, who has suffered the biggest impact of his love addiction, being neglected for many years as he chased after his fantasy of finding the perfect lover and muse. These serious moments feel a little out of sync with the rest of the play and tend to repeat the same discussion without adding something new or raising the stakes of the pain and distance between them. The most interesting and believable relationship is between Guy and his gruff sponsor Alex, played by Eric Hong, however the potential here is slightly wasted as towards the end of the play there is a reveal that doesn’t really advance the story in any way. Unfortunately we do not get to witness the full redemptive arc of Guy, as he apologises to the people in his life and swears to be better, but the play ends before we get to see any of those declarations play out, leaving us wondering if Guy ever followed through on his promises to be a better friend and show up for his daughter.
Kodie Amos does a great job lighting the play, and director Isaac Owen creatively utilises the large space at Chippen St Theatre that could otherwise feel empty. Chris Miller gives a committed and energetic performance as the lead character Guy, supported by a talented ensemble cast including Edric Hong as Guy’s delightfully begrudging, sarcastic sponsor and friend and Imogen French as Celia, Guy’s work colleague and friend. The cast have lots of room to play with Fran Bowick’s witty and distinctly Australian dialogue which shines during an early dinner scene between Guy, Celia and her husband (Ben Dewstow) which is equal parts funny, uncomfortable and immediately relatable.
Although it is a bit rough around the edges, Love Addict is a fun night out at the theatre and sure to entertain, with chaotic twist and turns and enthusiastic and heartfelt performances from the cast.