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A CurtainUp Review
"Short stories are my favorite form."
Playwright John Cariani explaining his preference for writing plays comprised of brief scenes.
Location, location, location. Don't let anyone tell you that location is any less important in theater than in real estate. Case in point: John Cariani's new play,
Love/Sick at Theatreworks, Hartford.
(Photo credit: )
Cariani's Almost, Maine, consisting of nine short sketches (or stories as he prefers to call them) and set in the wilds of northern Maine has become one of the most produced plays in high school and local theater companies across the country.
With Love/Sick the playwright continues his style of focusing on love – won, lost or sometime just ignored, in brief scenes – the play has ten ten-minute "stories."
While each of the ten scenes has the germ of a funny or poignant idea, there isn't much time for development and without the overlapping ambiance of the Maine environment they seem to exist in a vacuum.
Under the deft direction of Amy Saltz, the four actors: Pascale Armand, Bruch Reed, Chris Thorn and Laura Woodward contribute clever if surface characters.
It's not their fault that the material says — here's the joke — poof — it's gone. That doesn't mean there are scattered laughs to be found or emotions to ponder but this is a production that confuses brevity with substance.
Among the more satisfying scenes: one in which a singing telegraph man is required to sing a song the intended recipient was not expecting.
As a consolation, he tells her: "This is just temporary. Everything is."
Another nice one concern a couple who plan to have a baby, but "forgot " even thought the wife had put it on her calendar.
A couple of "stories" that rely on over the top acting but fail because of it, are one where two apparent strangers meet in a supermarket and go romantically ape over each other, and one in which a bored wife suddenly looks as though she plans to shoot her husband.
More subtle but suffering for lack of a real finish: a man comes to his lover's home but is not let in and is struck with hysterical deafness; a woman who searches futilely for something she thinks is among her accumulated belongings in the garage.
Costumes by Harry Nadal are character perfect and the bits and pieces of furniture Michael Schweikardt provides as sketchy settings are ok as well.
Neither a total delight nor a total disappointment this tease of a play makes you want to hit the highway to Maine or somewhere.
By John Cariani|
Directed by Amy Saltz
Cast: Pascale Armand, Bruch Reed, Chris Thorn, Laura Woodward
Set design: Michael Schweikardt
Costume deisgn Harry Nadal
Lighting design: Mary Jo Dondlinger
Sound design: Fitz Patton
Production manager: Michael Lehaghan
Stage Manager Kate J. Cudworth
Through June 22
City Arts on Pearl
233 Pearl Street
Performances: Tues. – Thurs. 7:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 8 p.m. Weekend matinees 2:30 p.m.
Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes, including one 15- minute intermission.
Tickets are $50 for general admission, $15 for reserved seat service charge; senior (60+) matinees $35, and student rush $15.
(860) 527-7838, or theatreworkshartford.org.
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