Love, Lies and Lust premiered at the Queen’s Theatre in 1992 and after 21 years this celebration of ‘the noblest urge bestowed on us’ has returned to its birthplace in Hornchurch. The piece is based upon the Restoration comedy The Country Wife, written by William Wycherley in 1675, which even in its own time was considered controversial for its sexual explicitness. The Heather Brothers have adapted the story into a musical comedy, but although it’s true that you have to be open-minded when going to see Love, Lies and Lust, it is fair to say that the sexual references are light compared to the Carry On movies of the 80s, and all are used for comic ends.
The cast is one of the largest that I have seen in a cut to the chase… production and there is a huge amount of talent on display throughout.
The ensemble is led by the amazing voice of Elliot Harper as Horner, who has already won the hearts of all the wives in his town, but is unable to get into their beds due to their husbands who have become wise to his schemes.
So he comes up with a new plan to carry out his desires, and with the assistance of his friend, and our narrator for the evening Quack (Ali Watt), he concocts a new plan to win the trust of the husbands and consequently the beds of their wives. The ‘ladies of quality’, Lady Fidget (Anna Skye), Squeamish (Barbara Hockaday) and Dainty (Bibi Nerheim) entertainingly hold their heads up high while secretly sharing the bed of Horner.
But while courting these women, Horner lusts after ‘the farmer’s wife’ figure of Margery Pinchwife (Kate Robson-Stuart) and attempts to woo her under the nose of her husband Pinchwife (David Morley Hale). While Horner represents adultery and lust, the symbol of relationships and love is represented by Alithea (Sufia Manya) and Harcourt (Adrian Salmon) who seek to be together despite Alithea being promised to Sparkish (Max Gallagher) at the promise of a dowry. The musical is based around an extremely elaborate plot and the stories of the other characters are only there to facilitate that of Horner, so it is unfortunate that the other stories are often drowned out by that of the main character.
Overall, though, Love, Lies and Lust is an enjoyable experience. The music is amazing with the accomplished cut to the chase… cast providing both the score and vocals.