This production is a Stage Must-See

The Loves I Haven't Known

C Nova

Musicals/Opera Reviewed by Natasha Tripney

Chris Bush and Ian McCluskey’s hugely charming song cycle purports to be “an almost entirely true story based on things that never actually happened”. In true Nick Hornby style, the pair list their various maybes and almosts – the girls that got away, the girls that ran away and the girls they never even plucked up the courage to talk to in the first place.

Their songs tell of lusting after a school friend’s mum and her magnificent “spheres of influence”, and depict the sticky-floored perils of a night on the town in Doncaster.

These two have a number of things in their favour – their voices are strong, as is their playing. Their show has a satisfying narrative arc and the lyrics are consistently sharp and smart. They have a good rapport with each other and the audience, and a nice, easy performance style that chimes with the material.

And while the show has its fair share of boob gags and an ode to what Woody Allen referred to as “sex with someone I love” – probably the weakest number - the humour is grounded in a place of emotional truth and it’s this that really impresses. You’ll come away smiling – that’s a given – but also maybe a little reflective too.

Published online
Review by
Natasha Tripney
Published in The Stage Newspaper on
Produced by
Bush and McCluskey
Chris Bush, Ian McCluskey
Running time
1 hour
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