Love. “Coincidence or miraculously angelic?”
When it comes to relationships, romantic, platonic, or familial, we all struggle in our own ways and wonder if we truly “matter.” We question our significance (or insignificance) in the eyes of the ones we love and the universe we live in. We must all be born and we all must die, but if the powerful force of love is so worth fighting for, why do we fall in and out of it so quickly…or not at all?
Theatre UCF presented (a love story) this past month. While the play itself, written by Kelly Lusk, is nothing short of a tearjerker, all members of the ensemble cast were absolute masters in captivating audiences with their bone-chilling interpretations of a love story we can all relate to. It was almost scary how true their reactions were to the excitement of falling in love and the shattering heartbreak we all feel when it begins to end.
We would all describe love as complicated when it comes to finding it, keeping it, and letting it grow, but the cast fueled this complex emotion into simple, eloquent dialogue timed perfectly for the likes of all audiences. When we fall for others, they become part of ourselves, but the most revealing fact about love we learned from this show is “some people love the people who loved them…some didn’t.” This is particularly hard to swallow, especially in the relationship between Greg (Isaac Rossi) and David (Salvatore Vieira). Audiences could feel their chemistry as their relationship went through its ups and downs, and its ultimate down.
The dynamic of Anne (Maddie Tarbox) and Jack (Eric Eichenlaub) was the most interesting as their initial online introduction is the most relevant, but the acting seemed to fall flat in the second act as did the abusive relationship between Emily (Jasmine Mitchell) and Richard (Jesse Hinton). However, their skills both captured and enhanced the innocence and vulnerability we all feel when we are scared to fall in love. The mother/son relationship between Emily and David was excellent as the tension grew and grew throughout the show, along with Jack’s physical bullying of Greg.
The best performances of all were from Danielle Miller, John Michael McDonald, and Tyler Beauregard, who played the “sprouts” and spoke in a harmony of desperate, caring, loyal persuasion toward Jack in order to keep their master. These characters proved that living things other than humans can indeed feel the pains of love, and the actors’ guidance as “girl,” “man,” and “boy” once again not only flowed beautifully but also showcased Theatre UCF’s signature of intertwining, modern vignette acting.
The direction of Mark Routhier and stage management of Rebecca Kane were exquisite from the lighting and truly universal setting. Routhier’s utilization of the black box space worked beautifully with the levels and sleeping arrangements of the characters. The dream sequence at the finale of Act 1 was perfectly directed as the nightmares, from the characters and audience members, come to life.
This play was meant to make us feel uncomfortable. We try to impress one another, we try to build relationships out of thin air, or by simply pressing, “send,” and we yearn to be the best version of ourselves for the ones we love. We kiss “because words cannot express the gratitude our hearts feel,” but the pain of a lie can leave us broken.
The cast and creative team of (a love story) showed audiences that even though we all make mistakes, we must put ourselves out there in order to catch a glimpse of happiness. Love is worth the risk.