Review: ‘Love Person” at Victory Gardens

 

Using the power of multi-platform story-telling, Love Person explores the emotional toll caused by discordant communications.

 

Love Person: "Well, I mean, it's not like I haven't seen people continuing before.  Continuing right out of my life.

 

 Love Person
by Aditi Brennan Kapil
Victory Gardens Theatre

Reviewed by Timothy McGuire

Love Person, by Aditi Brennan Kapil, now playing at Victory Gardens, explores the power of communication by creating a play that equally encompasses sign language, Sanskrit, English and modern forms of written communication within inter-tangled love triangles. The actor and actresses do not carry the plot alone due to the audience being able to visually read the texts and emails that are being sent between the characters. This creates a very realistic pause that exists within modern communication. The use of texting and email in this play also brings to question the power of communication between individuals even when you have no physical Love Person: "OK, you're pissed, I'm sorry."contact. The imperfections of translation are discussed in terms of human emotions so that we have a better understanding for the importance of these communication gaps.

The lead character, Free, is a moody, deaf, lesbian, played by Liz Tannebaum, who accidently forms an emotional bond with her sister’s crush while yearning for someone to honestly communicate with. Free lives with her lover and interpreter Maggie, played by Arlene Malinowski. Their relationship seems logical and could hold a real romance about it since they live together with their own separate language, but there is no warmth between them. Maggie’s outgoing attitude and her own conversations with friends leaves Free feeling isolated.

Ram is a Sanskrit professor studying the translation of Sanskrit poems. Ram is played by Rajesh Bose, who was the original Ram at Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis. His character is unsatisfied with the quality of Sanskrit poems once they are translated, he feels that the original language is far superior and loses some of its true meaning when spoken in English. This is an immediate connection for Free and Ram (even though they argue about it) since Free feels that sign language is inadequately translated into English.

Ram is reluctantly being set-up with Free’s sister. Free’s sister Vic is an English speaking, club-hopping, half-crazy Euro chick. Cheryl Graeff plays Vic‘s extreme emotional highs and lows with an entertaining personality. We are sprung back awake, and laughter is brought back into the theater when she enters the stage. She is not the intellectual or emotional connection that Ram is looking for. Even after Vic’s repeated attempts to attract Ram’s attention, he has no desire to have any sort of relationship with her until he received what he thought was an email from Vic. From that point he started talking through email, sharing his true personality and vulnerabilities with another person who actively shared in this modern form of bonding.

LovePerson: Free signing Maggie

There was a true intimate connection being made, without any physical interaction. The power of the communication was felt in the silence and anticipation while waiting for the next text to appear on screen. For those of us that consistently use texting and instant messaging as a form of communicating, this scenario, directed by Sandy Shinner is a realistic portrayal of the emotions involved while talking in 2009. The sometimes slow and boring moments of waiting for a response, also create an anxious sense of insecurity joined with excitement when you get a response. Liz and Rajesh are able to bring the power of this connection to life as they anticipate their next chance to speak to each other. That is also why the ending felt unfinished or unexplained. Was that connection really that intimate?

Love Person: texting-emailingWe are unable to see the depth of Ram’s character and there is never an emotional connection made with the audience as to why he chooses the path he does for his future. Free’s abrupt affection for her girlfriend Maggie at the end of the play doesn’t seem to fit her character. There is still a lot left unexplained as to why the bond formed through communication was so easy for her to walk away from if it meant so much to her personal happiness. Is she “settling” for Maggie, or do they find a deeper way to communicate through their love?

Love Person is unique in the way that it puts forth a multi-lingual performance. The three languages are used equally as lead languages. The audience is able to follow and fully absorb all forms of communication, which help deepen the impact of the performance. The script does a wonderful job at celebrating differences and poking fun and some humorous stereotypes. In particular, the scenes with Vic and Ram in Vic’s bedroom will make you chuckle.

Rating: «««

Venue: Victory Gardens Theater
When: Runs through June 14th
Tickets: call 773-871-3000

More information regarding Victory Gardens after the fold.

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