by Raphael Badagliacca

mad-love-sqrIt may be the intimacy of the theater on Broadway in Long Branch, NJ that reminds you that there is so much more that goes into creating a successful production than the actors and how they deliver the lines in the script.

Reading the show notes I looked at the set and wondered how the action could take place in multiple NYC locations when before me the space I saw was no larger than a single room.  When the play opens, Sloane (Alex Trow) and Brandon (Graham Techler) are having a very modern discussion about relationships.  It’s clear that they are in a relationship, but it’s also clear that they have never gone out on a date, or done anything as traditional as what they are doing now, eating at a restaurant.

Sloane is a young woman determined to have a child not now, but in the future, and she plans to sock away this option in the form of a sperm donation from Brandon. Getting his agreement is the reason she has invited him to this dinner, which she calls a “meeting.”  Her plan makes him uncomfortable, and there is no answer to her request as they leave the restaurant.

The restaurant also leaves us.  A seeming stagehand who turns out to be our third actor rolls the table and chairs away and into an open spot in the wall, then rolls out of the same wall a living room chair that transforms the space into an apartment.  He does this with a certain amount of panache that gets a reaction from the audience.

He does it again and again, transforming the setting from the apartment that turns out to be his own home into the classroom where Brandon teaches school and back again, with the same ease that relationships slip and slide, now one thing now another, uncertain of what expectations should be.  Doug (Jared Michael Delaney), our stage transformer, turns out to be the agoraphobic older brother Brandon has kept secret.  An escort, Katerina (Brittany Proia) with a suitably foreign accent is arranged for Doug and what develops looks like, at least for a time, the most genuine relationship of all.  It’s all clever and funny.

MAD LOVE runs through November 20.

By Marisa Smith directed by Evan Bergman; scenic designer, Jessica Parks; lighting designer, Jill Nagle; technical director; Brian P. Snyder; sound designer, Merek Royce Press costume designer, Patricia Doherty; stage manager, Jennifer Tardibuono.

With: Jared Delaney, Brittany Proia, Graham Techler and Alex Trow.

Mad Love will New Jersey Repertory Company (179 Broadway, Long Branch), and will run through Sunday, November 20, 2016. Thursdays & Fridays 8pm; Saturdays 3pm & 8pm; Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets may be purchased by calling 732-229-3166 or at