Romance, writing, and the thrill of the unknown: a review of Dorothy L. Sayers’ long lost Love All

Melody Lewis 9 February 2022
Image Credit: Anna Piper-Thompson

Stepping into the Playroom from the tepid streets of mild February evening in Cambridge, the steady hum of the humid Venice canals and the golden glow of a mid-summer’s day in Italy transported me directly to the heart of the glorious Mediterranean, offering an escapist dream from the trials and tribulations of the hectic Cambridge week. For a blissful two hours I could sit back and relax, and watch as this hilarious, calamitous series of events played out before me.

Dorothy L. Sayers’ 1940 comedy of manners, Love All traces the misadventures of a romance writer, who runs off with his mistress to Venice, only to have his world turned upside down when he discovers that, during his absence, his wife has secretly become a successful playwright back in London, leaving her no time to grant him the divorce she promised. This frightfully funny parlour comedy discusses the issue of career versus family, and the place of women in marriage in a starkly modern way for a play that has not been performed on stage in eighty years, leaving the audience feeling fresh and rejuvenated as they tumbled out once again onto the cool cobbled streets of Cambridge, leaving London and Venice behind them.

Sticking to the original 1940s setting was certainly the right choice for this play, as it endowed the characters with a certain level of believability that may have been lost had the play been brought up to date and modernised in its staging. The costumes and set design were nothing short of incredible, adding flair and elegance to an already fantastic piece of theatre. Inika Murkumbi’s designer’s eye for detail left nothing untouched, and Ioana Dobre’s prowess provided the cast with a sleek and glamorous set that perfectly transitioned between the rustic charm of a Venetian flat and the sophisticated London office of a popular playwright.

The intimate setting of the Corpus Playroom was perfect for Dorothy L. Sayers’ quirky and familial comedy; the proximity of the actors gave a real sense that the audience were not merely watching, but truly involved in the play, a piece of the set perhaps or even an additional, silent background character. The actors demonstrated skill and an incredible mastery of what, at times, was a rather wordy and intricate script, recounting with ease lines that made the audience laugh out loud time and time again. A particularly striking performance came from the fantastic Gabriel Jones, who brought pace to the play with his character’s quick-witted quips and marvellous theatrical exaggeration.

Praise must of course be given to the brilliant director, Frances Myatt, and her vision to bring this perfect gem of a play to life once again. Each scene was treated with care and attention, and Sayers’ dialogue shone thanks to the talent of the actors and entire production team. Fans and newcomers to Sayers’ work alike must take the chance to see this wonderful piece of theatre and be part of a unique, and interesting project to bring this lovely play back to life.

4/5 Stars.

Love All is on at the Corpus Playroom from the 9th to the 12th February at 7PM. Tickets can be found here