Words of love and loss straight from the heart

Rose petals galore in "I Want To Know What Love Is" at Eternity Playhouse. Image: Stephen Henry

The Good Room is a Queensland theatre collective whose modus operandi involves collecting words, phrases, stories and sentiments from anonymous contributors and compiling them into a coherent work. I Want To Know What Love Is is one such work. Rita Bratovich went to Eternity Playhouse to have a look. 

★★★

Unless you happen to like that particular 1980s power-ballad, the title of this show might give you an irritating ear worm and/or a false impression about what to expect. If you can evict both things from your head, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I Want To Know What Love Is is a piece of verbatim theatre that blends farce, sensuality, pathos, schmaltz, and a whole range of other sentiments with a truck-load of silk rose petals, bathes it in pink light and has four talented performers deliver it with vigour. 

Amy Ingram and Tom Cossettini share a moment. Image: Stephen Henry/supplied.

Creators Daniel Evans, Amy Ingram, Caroline Dunphy, Kieran Swann and Lauren Clelland have patched together a rough narrative arc from the very disparate fragments of thoughts and feelings they solicited from the wider public. These are broken off bits from real stories that somehow make a whole, and somehow truly reflect the fractured nature of love. 

Performers Tom Cossettini, Amy Ingram, Katrina Foster and Emily Tomlins are all quite different from each other physically and aesthetically, yet their relationship on stage is symbiotic. They alternate performing solo, in pairs, threesomes and ensemble to create vignettes depicting crushes, new love, old love, hate, romantic love, familial love, erotica, grief, ecstasy. Basically, if you’ve lived on this Earth you’ll relate to at least one (but probably many) of the scenarios presented in this show. 

Tom Cossettini serenades an audience member. Image: Stephen Henry/supplied.

It’s extremely frenetic one minute, then slow and achingly sombre the next. Apart from, seriously, a lot of rose petals, there’s not much in the way of props or set design. Some strongly worded signage drops down at relevant moments, often to appreciative yelps from the audience, and there’s some play with costumes, but mostly it’s about the performers using their bodies, faces and voices to animate the words they’ve been given. 

This is that rare kind of theatre that you can best describe as “different” but not in a disparaging way. 

See it with someone you kinda like, used to love, want to get closer to, want to split up with … no matter what, they’ll all get the message. 

I Want To Know What Love Is plays the Eternity Playhouse, 39 Burton Street, Darlinghurst from Wednesday, 19 May to Saturday, 22 May. Ticket ($52–$62) and further info from www.darlinghursttheatre.com/iwanttoknowwhatloveis.