“I love you”: Act IV, Scene 1: An Ode to Romantic Declarations in Theatre.

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Theatre is known for showing a whole range of emotions and dramatic scenarios, but often the most beautiful moments are those regarding romance. Declarations of love often become the most memorable parts of a show, whose words and feelings stay with an audience. Each one can be perceived as vastly different, but they all centre around a common and enticing theme.

What makes these moments special is that an audience is invited into viewing an intimate part of people’s lives, being able to forget for a short while that these people are mostly fictional characters. Often this is shown through an actor’s adaptions in vocal and physical performance which is slightly different to their character’s usual projection of themselves as they’re producing a new and vulnerable side. Because of this, they are often the most memorable. These moments can be anything from the long and sweetly written Shakespearean paragraphs, to perhaps something more controversial like Stanley’s drunken screams after Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire. Each one has something special about it; it may not be the words that make them eloquent, but instead the direction and commanding of the stage and audience.

Similarly, declarations shown in musical theatre are often just as special. They can show the initial love and subsequent heartbreak effectively through their songs (and the later reprises). The tainted repetition of certain melodies and phrases allows an audience to see the shock contrasts between total euphoria and devastating losses. RENT is one that does this particularly well with the story of Tom Collins and Angel Dumott Schunard. Their story is shown to be one of sheer simplicity and joyfulness, with Collin’s questioning about whether they’re a ‘thing’ and Angel replying, “Darling, we’re everything.” This leads to the upbeat I’ll Cover You, which is full of touching metaphors. On its own, this may not be seen as on of the best theatrical declarations of love, but when twinned with its reprise, the simple adoration is something that can survive even the concept of existence. The contrast between infectious joy and utter desolation is shocking and yet the words used are still the same, suggesting love is eternal. That is what makes their relationship so simple, beautiful, and idealistic, prompting other characters to say, “I’d be happy to die for a taste of what Angel had.”

But it’s not just declarations of love that produce these effects. Heartbreak is also constantly shown in theatre. These, despite not being as idolised by an audience, are extremely touching and often lead to reflections (and tears). Either through the use of song (Eponine’s solo, On my Own, confessing her unrequited love) or from the desperate nature of the stories (think Shakespeare’s horrific irony surrounding the lover’s deaths in Romeo and Juliet), heart-breaking moments strike a chord that are difficult to ignore. The difference between live theatre and its recorded counterparts is that it is difficult to recreate the same ambience as you would find in a theatre; those moments during heart-wrenching declarations where the air chills entirely with silent intent cannot be duplicated in the same way. There is something special about these experiences that can only be found within these exact conditions.

Declarations of love found in theatre are one of the most beautiful moments to behold – as long as they are written and performed well. The most common theme between all of these is the passion that they hold within them, which is something that draws an audience to get lost in an idyllic world, or to allow them to wallow in a poignant and momentarily distressing equivalent.

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A philosophy student with a penchant for uncertain puns

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