Review: Love Actually in Concert - The Royal Concert Hall Nottingham
Updated: Dec 14, 2021
How to review an orchestra accompanying a modern day classic Christmas film?
It’s a weird one because individually both are great. To me Love Actually has become a bit of a Christmas tradition. It’s on TV every year, and if I miss it I’ve got the DVD. Chances are, if you’re reading this you’ve seen it anyway, but if not…
“Love Actually is a 2003 Christmas-themed romantic comedy film written and directed by Richard Curtis. It features an ensemble cast, composed predominantly of British actors, many of whom had worked with Curtis in previous film and television projects. Mostly filmed on location in London, the screenplay delves into different aspects of love as shown through ten separate stories involving a wide variety of individuals, many of whom are shown to be interlinked as the tales progress. The story begins five weeks before Christmas and is played out in a weekly countdown until the holiday, followed by an epilogue that takes place one month later. Starring Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson and Martine McCutcheon"
The stage is set as it would be for an orchestral performance. Above them is a large cinema screen. The full orchestra (Senbla concert orchestra conducted by George Jackson) play the iconic Universal films intro, which raises a murmur of a chuckle behind the masks of the audience, and in one of the only differences to the film, they also play an overture - a piece of music comprising some of the tracks from the film along with Craig Armstrong’s full evocative score. Armstrong is one of the UK’s most recognised film composers, with his work being awarded a BAFTA for his Achievement in Film Music
As the film starts, the character's dialogue is against the continuation of the film's intro music. I found at this stage I was having to really listen to the dialogue as some was getting drowned out by the orchestra. I start to think the concept may not work, but then the music ends and I forget and get invested in the film. Whatever the issue was, it seems to sort itself out. Level slightly out? Acoustics? I’ve seen artists struggle in the Concert Hall at times before.
You then find that you’re so engrossed in the film, you almost forget that the orchestra is there, so it’s a strange one. Would I have paid to see the 2003 film alone on a big screen at a concert hall? Probably not. Would I have paid to see an orchestra play the score? Hmm, maybe - but then it’s Love Actually, good as the score is when you listen to it, it’s not actually one that’s particularly memorable, or that you find yourself humming long beyond the end of the movie..
I don’t think I ever saw Love Actually at the cinema. I’ve seen it that many times, I honestly can’t remember. I did find though that being on the big screen I totally fixated on it and noticed bits that I hadn’t before. Normally because it’s on tv and i’ll be doing something else at the same time. There was an intermission too. Not something we expect in a film nowadays, but of course, the orchestra needs a break, and it’s one of the times you remember that they're there, also at the end when everyone stays until the end of the credits to listen to the music and give the orchestra a rapturous standing ovation.
I initially thought they were going to do an encore, then again, what would it be? Weird thing is that when it comes to your attention that they're there again at the end, I could have happily stopped and listened to them longer.
On the whole, you go for the experience. Only a great film can make it work, and only a great orchestra can accompany a great film to enrich your overall experience, and it that way it works. It’s feel good at it’s finest, and I for one can’t wait for the next one - The Muppets Christmas Carol.
If only Alan Rickman hadn’t bought that necklace though.
• My Tickets were gifted but my views are my own