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Play: Love, Genius and a Walk

  • Christy Lawrance

Love, Genius and a Walk is an ambitious exploration of the tensions when art and marriage are combined.

Gustav Mahler (Lloyd Morris), renowned composer and conductor, wants his wife Alma (Lisa Ronaghan) to have the role of his muse. She desires closeness but he is wary of this, fearing it will distract him from his creative work.

Pressures rise in the relationship, and he turns to psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud (Tim Hardy) for guidance.

Naturally, the performance is interspersed with Mahler's music. Morris is a musician and composer himself, and this play displays his ability as a pianist as well as a confident ease in conducting.

The story takes in luminaries of the Mahlers' time, including Marie Bonaparte (Sarah Lawrie), a psychoanalyst closely associated with Freud, architect Walter Gropius (James Boyd), composer Richard Strauss (David McMaster), conductor Bruno Walter (Jonathan Blakeley) and Sigmund Freud's wife Martha and Pauline Strauss, an opera singer who was married to Richard Strauss (Emma Wilkinson Wright).

The Mahlers' marriage and is held in parallel to that of a modern couple. Strain arises in this later marriage as Steve (Stephen Connery Brown) is critical of The Writer (Jodyanne Fletcher Richardson), believing she could be earning more from more commercial work.

Love, Genius and a Walk, written by the New York writer Gay Walley and directed by Leah Townley, has been nominated for six prizes, included Best Play, at the Midtown Festival in New York.

Jewish-born Mahler converted to Catholicism before taking charge of the Vienna Opera in 1897 at the age of 37. His decision was probably a pragmatic one - to protect himself from anti-Semitism which was rife in Austria at the time. But he was also very familiar with Christian culture, music and literature and much of his work is permeated with Christian subjects and themes.

Love, Genius and a Walk is at Theatro Technis, 265 Crowndale Road, NW1 1TT until 17 October. £15/£12. For more information and booking details, see: www.theatrotechnis.com/what-s-on-1/love-genius-and-a-walk

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