Grand Theatre, Blackpool
You can’t put a price on love, but Eternal Love is a different matter.
First-night audiences here were encouraged to pay whatever they felt appropriate after the opening performance of this production from English Touring Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe.
The initiative was designed to increase audiences and, after the success of a very similar performance of Anne Boleyn two years ago, it will have seemed like a banker bet.
The difficulty, however, is that the story of 12th century French lovers Abelard and Heloise may not be as immediately appealing to audiences as the instantly more familiar troubles of our own King Henry’s consort. And that’s a shame, because Eternal Love shares so much in common with the Boleyn play. Howard Brenton is the author of both; the Globe stage design is pretty much identical; and the feisty style of actress Jo Herbert suits the central characters of both plays, as imagined by Brenton.
His take on the tragedy though tends to see passion bottled up in philosophical exchanges, with the love story a virtual sub plot.
The Grand is to be congratulated though on being one of the eight venues chosen for this inaugural visit of the National Touring Group, destined to bring several more productions to their doorstep.
Eternal Love runs until Saturday.