Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
This love affair between a handsome 23-year-old paraplegic and a 43-year-old mother of three on welfare by the late John Belluso turns out to be not about his handicap or her age but about what many romances founder on: economics. This is not to say that Belluso didn't write with voluminous rage and mordant humor about disability and the health care system. It's his country. From 1999 to 2005 he was Director of the Mark Taper Forum's Other Voices Project for Disabled Theatre Artists and his play The Body of Bourne was done at the Taper.
In this play Harry (Tobias Forrest), who was injured in a diving accident, meets Louise (Dendrie Taylor) in, of course, a hospital emergency room where she's waited for hours to have her baby treated. Harry gives her his place in line and advises her not to be so belligerent because then the nurses make you wait longer. The two become friends and, as Harry urges Louise to take college courses towards a nursing degree and she urges him to use his creative computer skills to make real money in the corporate world instead of following his heart to build sites for politically correct groups with small money, they fall in love.
Belluso shows their differences when Louise prefers watching TV game shows to studying for her tests and Harry reads the same books over and over instead of moving on to new ones. It's their own weaknesses that defeat their relationship and it's Belluso's gift as a playwright that, while revealing the frustrations of the health care system to the poor and disabled, he's moved beyond didacticism to make this a play about people, their choices and what they do with what they've got.
The play is well served by its actors. Tobias Forrest presents Harry as initially insouciant and independent, but later revealed as furiously obsessed over the health care system which he believes Louise, like his mother, is unable to handle. Dendrie Taylor, clearly the more experienced actor, is a strong vulnerable Louise. Though certainly not Harry's equal in culture and literature, Louise has a degree from her life as a mother in compassion and perception, which Taylor projects. Both actors have an energy and sensitivity that, under Diane Rodriguez's intuitive direction, allows them to play the ends of their characters without resorting to screaming.
Victoria Petrovich's surreal set design, with its pyramids of empty cartons and linoleum numbered floor, reflects the bewildering nature of these lives. It's to Belluso's credit that he never used his characters as mouthpieces or condescended to them.
For a review of an Off-Broadway production of this play go here
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide
At This Theater