Monday, August 10, 2015

Love Sucks! (review)

Spoilers ahoy!

Love Sucks, the latest entry from the True Focus Theater, proves to have a slightly misleading title. Appropriate, completely so, but given the tenor of our times maybe we expect a harsh condemnation of how relationships go wrong.

This proves to have nowhere near so narrow a focus.

Directed by Vanessa Cate and Angie Hoover, Love Sucks turns out to be a series of vignettes in different forms -- scenes, poetry, pantomime, dance, even a ten minute play by Cate I'd seen before (one of the perhaps three plays such length I've ever thought genuinely good).  The choreography in various pieces from Natalie Hyde and Cheryl Doyle showed a real power, and in the former's case (whose dancing I've seen for years now) an impressive pushing at boundaries.

Photo credit: Vanessa Cate
Sometimes what we saw was hilarious, for one reason or another. I'm still trying to figure out what special chemistry made Tucker Matthews singing a pop song (straight--he did nothing overtly funny) so very funny.

Another particularly hilarious bit had not a word of dialogue, but told the simple (okay not simple but incredibely perverse) story of a blind date that seems like one of those instant moments of clicking between two people.

Other moments were sweet, at times very sad.

Yet other moments, scenes and things shared with us other--sometimes very strange--aspects of this compulsion we seem to have, to find someone with whom to share the loneliness, to taste the days and nights together. Why do we do that, one might wonder? Is it really so instrinsic to human nature that we seek out someone, looking for that perfect companion, that other side of our wounded soul?

Photo credit: Vanessa Cate
This play doesn't seek to answer that question. It rather explores the beautiful foolishness, the silly and horrible mistakes, the hunger we keep trying to fulfill one way or another. We see a breakup so terrible and humiliating we want to crawl under our chairs--yet we laugh. How very human.

Remembrances of love gone away, for one reason or another. Unrequited love creating a seemingly hopeless triangle, which then becomes something...well, crazy. Maybe. But it might work. We'll never know.

It all seems very familiar, though. At least it did to me. Because even though my life has not had nearly as much romance as I'd've liked, this all rang true. Very nearly too much at time. The experience I find most powerful in any form of drama is recognition of myself. A promiscuous lesbian, a loser lying about having crabs, a young man kept as a slave, a married woman yearning for the girl she left behind, a gay man hopelessly in love with a straight one -- what Love Sucks made me feel was how each of these were me. Each of them were all of us, if only we'd admit it.

Love Sucks plays Sundays at 7:30pm at Zombie Joe's Underground Theater, 4850 Lankershim Blvd (just south of the NoHo sign)., North Hollywood, CA 91601 until August 30, 2015.  Tickets are $15 and in my opinion well worth it.

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