What is love? More to the point, what is #7Love? Currently playing at The Paddock Tavern as part of the 2016 SummerWorks Festival, it’s an interactive play about love and heartbreak that spans the decades between the ages of 7 and 97. I may be a little biased, as someone who is currently in love, but #7Love is a lot of fun, and may leave you with a warm glow inside. If you’re having love troubles, though, it might leave a little hole in your heart – or, perhaps, a little hope.
As you enter the bar (what better place, they say, to see a show about falling in love, or at least lust?), there are upbeat tunes about love playing and signature cocktails being served. The design is that of a scientific study, an exploration of the true nature of love collected via “scientific research” (interviews with a number of subjects with the number 7 in their age). You know it’s scientific, because everyone’s wearing a lab coat.
Come early if you want to be part of the research by participating in a taped interview, complete with a shower of rose petals. Clips from interviews appear later in the show, in well-designed video with some impressively quick edits. Otherwise, there’s a bit of audience participation in terms of some hand-raising and survey-completing (also effectively connected to moments in the play), but nothing that would make most people uncomfortable.
Investigators warn that “this is going to get personal.” It does and it doesn’t; some stories may resonate with you, and some may not. They also say they’re seeking to find out what love is. They do – and they don’t. The scientific bent of the play effectively underscores the concept that it’s more important to ask the question than to find a definitive answer. Love is the eternal question and the delight is in the exploration.
This exploration is done via lots of fluid movement and delightful song, with an effective use of the space within (and even on top of) the bar. It can get a little frenetic, and a few segments make their point and then drag a little (I wish we’d been able to see interviews with 77 and 87-year-olds instead)! The actors shine, though, when they share their subjects’ stories, ably encapsulating them without slipping too far into caricature.
Casting is refreshingly done without regard to gender, age, or number. Likewise, necessary for a sociological study, the production was conscious of diversity in their subjects. There’s always room for more, but I was happy to see some inclusiveness in the stories.
The evening starts with a lot of humour, but the moments of pathos increase as the ages of the participants rise and the reverence of the artists increases commensurately. It’s hard not to shed a tear as you see a couple decide to take a step closer to forever, or a story of a longterm love lost.
The show doesn’t completely escape the dangers inherent in a “verbatim play” (text that comes directly from interviews), which is that you’re largely constrained by what you get; the eloquence of your participants can elevate or hamper the point you’re trying to make. While #7Love doesn’t completely come together to be fully greater than the sum of its parts, its creators have shaped it quite well, so that it feels like a cathartic journey. Personally, I had a lovely time.
#7Love plays at The Paddock Tavern (178 Bathurst Street).
- Saturday August 6th, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM
- Sunday August 7th, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM
- Tuesday August 9th, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM
- Wednesday August 10th, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM
- Thursday August 11th, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM
- Friday August 12th, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Youth Series tickets are $10, Live Art Series ticket prices vary. Tickets are available online, by phone at 416-320-5779 and in person at the SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst Street). Open August 2-14 from 10am-7pm. Cash and credit accepted.
Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows.
Photo provided by the company