Loveness? Do you mean “Confusion Wrapped Around Too Much Dialogue”? Yes, I did see that show and subsequently regretted.
The press release states that “LOVENESS is an urban poetic satirical melodrama, a poetic dance between the experiential level of human reality – dulled by our fruitless search to complete ourselves through a romantic partner – and an exploration of the deeper, more accurate levels of emotion and the measure of how far we have to go to unlock their truth.” Sound’s amazing doesn’t it? Till you watch and it falls very short of what was expected, having a rather lack luster search for self and truth.
The release also states that “LOVENESS is manifested as the story of Carlyle (Jinn S. Kim) and Isabelle (Meredith Nicholaev), who fall for one another. They assume it is love but then must face their true intentions and self-deception.” This is quite far off the mark in description too.
Ok, so the play opens to Isabelle on a date with a guy. Their witty chemistry filled interaction starts the show off well, gaining laughs from the crowd. I do not remember character names being established in this scene. Then we cut to Isabelle talking to her therapist about a man named Trevor (so it leads one to assume the guy she was with was Trevor). Isabelle talks about how Trevor cheated on her. Then we get introduced to the new guy Carlyle who is the same male actor who we thought was Trevor dressed in Trevor’s clothes. The mind wonders whether he is actually called Carlyle or if he is both men but different personalities.
Say I was not paying attention when the names were said in the first scene which I doubt. There is still confusion. In many following scenes the mind is just not 100 percent sure who Isabelle is interacting with until a while in when she says the name. Is it Trevor? Is it Carlyle? If this story is about Carlyle and Isabelle the “Trevor” character/name just needed to not be included. Later on I thought maybe Trevor was metaphoric and the cheating was Carlyle’s substance abuse but it still did not remedy my negative feelings.
What does Carlyle really want? What is he doing to get it? It is not certain. He is just a person with a gambling and heroine problem who is not really in physical action. What does Isabelle want? That too is muddy. I have settled on the idea that she wants to love but wants to work on her issues before hand. The action she takes is to see a therapist.
Then there is a twist *spoiler* Isabelle in the end turns out to be her own therapist having sessions in her head which just throws too many unanswered questions on the board. So basically the play is about a seriously mentally ill woman?
WHAT IS THIS PLAY ABOUT?
There is a difference between mystery, tasteful reveals and straight up confusion. It should be a writing law by now to not confuse the audience.
The iceberg which unfortunately sank this ship was the script written by Craig MuMs. There is no real structure or real character development. There is just too much dialogue and not enough action. The sense of time just flies out the window. I left the theater wondering whether the play had span of a few weeks, months or years. We jump from scene to scene without solid time transitions.
MuMs definitely has a tight hold on the English language, his words are the very essence of poetry but in the arena of plays he is going to need a bit more than poetry. After all he is writing a play, not a poem. He is going to need smoother transitions, worry more about actions, decisions, structure, character development etc. The work has relatable moments and award winning one liners but the overall product needs a lot of extra time tightening up in order to stay afloat.
As for direction by Jill DeArmon there were some really awkward choices which left me wondering “but why?” There are positive moments in direction too like her use of the space but nothing really jaw dropping.
One of the highlights of the show is the sound design by Andre Fratto. The sounds were consistent in positive execution—so much so that it is one of the only things I wish to remember.
The acting is another positive part of the show. Nicholaev’s skills are one of the finest in this business and her gift unfortunately struggled to stay relevant in a script which fashioned no room to create empathy for her character. The bartender character played by Marco Greco could have been a smaller role. Not because of bad acting–Marco Greco does his job well—it’s just more time needs to be spent on the relationship. Kelley Rae O’Donnell is well versed at drawing laughs from the crowd. Kim also gives good quality acting.
Despite on point acting, I would not recommend watching this show unless you want to wonder why on earth you spent money to sit through something that just is not the best it can be. There is so much potential in this project it is actually painful to watch it crash.
LOVENESS: I WILL ONLY LOVE YOU ONCE is playing at The Players Theatre (115 MacDougal Street, between Bleecker and West 3rd St)
Show Times: August 10th through August 23rd
SUN 8/17 @ 7:45PM
WED 8/20 @ 7:15PM
FRI 8/22 @ 4:45PM
SAT 8/23 @ 7PM.
Tickets are $18 in advance at http://www.fringenyc.org/
LOVENESS: I WILL ONLY LOVE YOU ONCE: Written By Craig MuMs Grant and Directed by