Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and this year it promises to be a lot of fun. I consider myself a romantic person when I am in a relationship, but Valentine’s Day always seems to bring a sense of unease. There is the pressure of buying something, or making some gesture that has just the right
degree of romance (If it is just a normal day, I am quite capable of finding just the right thing). The same, incidently, applies to Christmas and birthdays, but I digress.
And it always seems as though entertainment options tend to be, at best, sentimental, and at worst schlocky and sappy.
This year I get the chance to turn it around. I am involved in Divergent Theater’s production of “Love/Stories,” by Itamar Moses, to be presented Feb. 13 and 14 at the Beaumont Club.
“Love/Stories (or But You Will Get Used to It)” consists of five short plays, each dealing with relationships and with theater — yeah, it’s one of those “meta” things, but don’t let that put you off.
I am directing “Authorial Intent,” featuring Jade Oliver and Matthew Phillips. These talented young actors play actors playing actors who are played by actors — just go with it, it all becomes clear in the end. I also get to act in “Szinhas,” playing a high-concept eastern European theater director. Grace Mathis gets to play my translator in a hilarious role.
These plays are not your typical romantic fare. They are incredibly witty, but also literate and thought-provoking. I challenge anyone to watch “Authorial Intent” and not see the emotional dance that takes place within every relationship.
Part of the humor comes from Moses’ excellent writing — he is a 37-year-old playwright whose work has been well received by the New York Times and across the country — but a big part comes from the recognition of the audience. As I watch Jade and Matt spar with each other on set, I am constantly reminded of similar situations in past relationships.
Moses has a knack of finding the truth in situations, but always with clever wordplay and humor. In a New York Times review of the production at Flea Theater, Neil Genzlinger describes “Authorial Intent” as “a clever two-hander that begins as an interesting enough portrait of a couple who have just moved in together but morphs into something entirely different.” As a director, it is a fun challenge to help the actors find the nuance as the play shifts from one mood to another. Fortunately, Jade and Matt have embraced the challenge and rehearsals are both eye-opening and fun.
Genzlinger writes that in “Szinhas,” “Moses throws the actors a drastic change in tone, going from easy jokes based on thick accents to something more serious.”
That is the great pleasure for a director or actor. A fresh work — the play was published in 2010 — that offers audiences a chance to laugh while seeing the truth of themselves and their relationships.
“Love/Stories” is not the typical smushy Valentine’s show but, as the play’s subtitle puts it, “…You Will Get Used to It.”
The dinner theater event, “A Night for Love,” also features a gourmet meal, live music and other romantic extras. DeeDee Howell, Adonia Placette and Ramona Young also direct, and the cast includes a fine collection of local talent.
For tickets, visit http://www.DivergentTheater.com.