Ugly Love Review


Ugly Love erupted onto the stage and generously shared an abundance of colour, energy, and vibrance with the audience. Just by watching, one could feel the electricity in the room.
Cypriana Singh in Ugly Love. Photo by Jasmin Simmons.
The cast was small, only consisting of four people. Yet each actor managed to make the theatre feel alive and full. They delivered every piece of dialogue with power and vivacity, and all the songs were sung with full passion and spirit. The entire production was absolutely transformative in its space.
Set in modern-day Sydney, the story captures the lives of two standard civilians, living their normal lives, in their normal marriage, while doing normal things. That is until Jess (played by LJ Willson) decides she’s bored of this normal lifestyle. While she loves her husband, Sam, she can’t help but long for something more. Something new. Something to bring excitement to her rapidly diminishing sense of enjoyment in life. Then, on a night out with her best friend Maddie, Jess meets Lola. Played by Cypriana Singh, Lola is a beautiful and upbeat dancer, who isn’t only gay, but also polyamorous. After some convincing from Jess, Sam agrees to try an open relationship, however, the boundaries are unclear, and if Jess isn’t careful, she might just fall in love with Lola.
Ugly Love isn’t just about dating and jealousy, though. It’s also about being queer and exploring one’s own sexuality while still in a committed relationship. Lucy Matthews, the director and writer, challenges concepts not usually questioned in media, one of which is the idea that people’s identity and self-discovery end at marriage, especially in heterosexual marriages. What is considered acceptable in society is constantly changing. LGBTQIA+ people and communities are becoming much more welcomed than before, yet only the parts of the community that are deemed easily understandable and ‘straight’ enough for ignorant, closed-minded people to comfortably cast a blind eye. This, unfortunately, makes polyamorous people much more likely to be shunned and left out. It’s refreshing to see a show so genuine and truthful with its take on queer people and queer relationships of all kinds.
Cypriana Singh and LJ Wilson in Ugly Love. Photo by Jasmin Simmons.

While a lot of these themes may seem downbeat and weighty, Ugly Love was certainly not. The music – directed by Dom Parker and Lucy Matthews – was joyous in many respects. It added an invigorating sort of ‘pizazz’ to the whole production and made some of the more troubling moments easier to watch. Hidden behind a curtain for the majority of the show was a live band playing the backing. These folk were criminally underseen, their discipline and stamina for their craft were breathtaking, and the depth they added visually to scenes when shown was absolutely dazzling. To see them just a few more times would have been an absolute delight.

Ugly Love is impressively thought-provoking while also being simultaneously uplifting and zesty. People should always be allowed to feel love and give it back, but what happens when that actively harms others you also love? Do you owe them complete loyalty? If not, then how do you effectively set boundaries so no one gets hurt? It’s a fascinating concept, and when you add music, well-developed characters, and charming actors to the mix, you can’t go wrong.

4 Stars.

Astra, 16 [she/her]

Acoustic Theatre’s Ugly Love played at Flightpath Theatre from the 14th to the 23rd July.