The eagerly anticipated new work from dynamic duo Martin Dockery and Vanessa Quesnelle (better known here as Concrete Drops), Love is a Battlefield, makes its Canadian premiere at the Ottawa Fringe Festival this year and suffice to say it’s well on its way to being another great piece for this company. Dockery and Quesnelle appear to be experts in creating tension on stage through the constant power struggles between their characters and the gripping drama they create is constructed through their carefully measured dialogue alone. Love is a Battlefield is an exciting journey filled with suspense, Pat Benatar, and fine whisky.
The story is wonderfully complex and layered, as is characteristic of this company. A beautiful female singer and a ‘lowly’ DJ meet up to record a song and as the situation begins to unravel they discover that the pretenses they originally met under are as false as the very narratives they had just been spinning for each other. All is not what it seems in this world with the story following many twists and turns, leaving the audience left to wonder what’s going to happen next? and simultaneously what’s already happened here? You’re never really quite sure who has the power between the two characters as they fence back and forth constantly with their barbs and quips- pushing away and pulling back in. It’s not until the very end reveal do you realize that neither had any power to begin with.
Overall, I think this piece could actually benefit from being slightly shorter as it feels a little long and repetitive in some parts (for example, they argue about drinking a lot). That being said, Love is a Battlefield will have lots of time to redevelop and tighten the nitty gritty details as it continues its tour. The performances are, in themselves, very enjoyable to watch as Dockery and Quesnelle (who are, yes, married in real life) have this great natural chemistry on stage and respond so genuinely to one another.
Love is a Battlefield undeniably has tiny elements of Moonlight After Midnight scattered throughout it (i.e. the way they begin on stage even), however the text in this instance is slightly more traditional in its dramatic narrative. I appreciate the nod to the Chekovian gun and the clear conflict-climax-resolution style plot line is a bit of a departure (a nice departure to be sure) from what I’ve seen from this company previously.
I would recommend this piece to anyone who hasn’t seen any of Concrete Drops’ work before, because it’s sure to get you hooked and fans of Quesnelle and Dockery will rejoice their favourite creative couple back on stage once more. As per usual, my yearly PSA, get your tickets early as this company tend to put butts in seats fast.