I was late. I had been moving into my new apartment, finally, and had literally just thrown the last of my luggage down in my room and run back out the door to the show, but I was still late. The usher and barman at the Neues Schauspiel grumbled only a little, and allowed me to sneak in. Fortunately, there was a seat available right by the door, so I could get the unpleasant business over with and enjoy the show.
The Mysterious Mr. Love was written by Katherine Leach, and tells the story of a charming raconteur who makes his living swindling lonely ladies out of their life savings. He quickly sweeps the sweet and seemingly endlessly naïve Adelaide off her feet and convinces her to elope with him after only two days of wooing.
Looking forward to his newfound fortune, it seems like business as usual for the crafty Mr. Love, until he discovers there is something different afoot with the newest Mrs. Love.
Directed by Tom Bailey from English Theatre Leipzig, The Mysterious Mr. Love takes us on a whirlwind romance that ends in a surprising twist. The two actors, Peter Seaton-Clark as George Love and Nicola Chapman as Adelaide Pinchin, occupy the entire stage and act as both characters and narrators.
Both brilliantly portrayed, the characters quickly enthrall us with their personal stories and the saga that develops as they try to navigate their changing relationship. The intimacy and cosy atmosphere of the Neues Schauspiel lends the perfect setting to this dramatic story of love and deception that plays out in Edwardian London.
I had the chance to pose a few questions to the actors – a married couple in real life – and was given a glimpse into their personal feelings about this particular iteration of the show.
Loudine: Did you have any pre-show jitters or concerns prior to opening night?
Nicola: Any actor worth their salt has pre-show jitters – it is the adrenaline that gives our performances their sparkle. We both were concerned about the text itself, because it was similar enough to the original script that it felt like we knew it, but different enough that we messed up time and again in rehearsal! But generally, we were both so happy to be doing the show again, that any jitters were entirely worth it!
I heard that your kids were both there and that they reacted quite emotionally to seeing the show. Did they discuss it with you afterwards?
They did and we were quite surprised. When we first did the show [in 2015], they were both too young to see it, but we reckoned that they were old enough now (12 and 13) to handle some of the more adult themes (body shaming, parental abuse, etc). We talked to them about it before, in order to forewarn them of some of this, and they both assured us they would be fine…
Well, wouldn’t you know it? Our daughter was crying because the characters were shouting at each other. She knew it wasn’t us, she didn’t think WE were fighting, she just doesn’t like it when people yell at each other. We comforted her and then saw that our son was upset also. When we asked why, he said it was because it wasn’t us on the stage, we were “other people.” Damned if we do, damned if we don’t!
We have since spoken to them both and sorted out all the feelings; both of them are fine now. It was an interesting insight for both of them, I think.
They have always known that Mummy and Daddy are actors, but this experience has made it real for them – now they really know what it is we do.
They have often seen us doing voice-overs (they have even done some), but this was their first experience of us on stage, embodying other characters.
Do you plan on traveling with this production, or do you have anything else in the pipeline we can look forward to?
We would love to take this show on the road (so to speak)! There are a number of English theatres dotted around Germany, as well as German theatres that offer English language productions, and we think that this show is good enough to take around the country. It would be a fantastic way to announce to the wider German culture that Leipzig is not, in fact, the podunk-nowhere town that so many people seem to think it is, but in fact a vibrant, creative city with a lot to offer!
Of course, in order to do this, we have to find a sponsor (to pay for the van, technician, stage-hand, petrol, hotels, and perhaps even the actors), and we also need to find a promoter who can book the tour for us. This is the reason for the cameras which are in a different position each night. We are trying to put together a sizzle-reel which we can use to “sell” the production to promoters and possible sponsors. Wish us luck!
English Theatre Leipzig produces three plays a year at the moment, always at the Neues Schauspiel.
Peter and I are talking with Tom Bailey, our director, at the moment, about possibly doing another production in the near future, but nothing has been settled yet. Stay tuned!
Bottom line: Marvelous, strong acting, beautiful costumes and realistic, period-set décor, combine to create a wholly compelling experience that captivates from start to dramatic finale. Laugh-out-loud funny, thought-provoking and a jolly good night out – I highly recommend this engaging show to anyone who enjoys a slightly unconventional look at the human search for love.
If you hurry, you can still catch The Mysterious Mr. Love in 2018: this Friday and Saturday at 8 pm, at Neues Schauspiel, Lützner Str. 29, 04177 Leipzig. Tickets online: 14 December | 15 December – or by telephone: 0341 927 997 70.