The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday December 4th

Acting stifles Playmakers performance of ‘Love Alone’

Jenny Wales (left) and Julia Gibson perform in "Love Alone," presented by the Playmakers Repertory Company starting Feb. 26 and continuing through March 16. Playmakers' production of Deborah Salem Smith's story of grief and healing will be performed in the Paul Green Theatre at UNC's Center for Dramatic Art. Individual ticket prices start at $15.
Buy Photos Jenny Wales (left) and Julia Gibson perform in "Love Alone," presented by the Playmakers Repertory Company starting Feb. 26 and continuing through March 16. Playmakers' production of Deborah Salem Smith's story of grief and healing will be performed in the Paul Green Theatre at UNC's Center for Dramatic Art. Individual ticket prices start at $15.

PlayMaker Repertory Company’s “Love Alone” featured stunning split scenes and breakout performances from Master of Fine Arts students Sunday, but the brilliant script is bogged down by inconsistent emotional arcs and didactic deliveries.

PlayMakers’ is presenting the regional premiere of “Love Alone,” a story of grief and forgiveness by Deborah Salem Smith, until March 16. When a minor surgery goes fatally awry, a lawsuit ensues and the lives of the patient’s family and the attending doctor are wracked by anger and guilt.

Theater review

Title: Love Alone
Artist: Playmakers
Date: March 2

???½

The show had an unsteady start, opening with Dr. Becca Neal, played by Jenny Wales, delivering the news of 48-year-old Susan’s death to a bewildered Helen, the patient’s partner of 20 years, played by Julia Gibson. The exchange felt rushed and was not entirely believable — Wales seemed unrealistically aggressive and Gibson seemed more casually confused than deeply shocked.

This marked a trend that persisted throughout the piece — Gibson did not fully progress beyond that initial bewilderment to convincingly realize the stages of grief evident in the script.

Bereaved daughter and budding rock star Clementine, played by Arielle Yoder, initially leads the investigation into the hospital’s actions and serves as the moral compass of the play. Yoder’s portrayal of Clementine is enchantingly complex, striking a compelling balance between youthful angst and developing maturity.

Yoder’s versatility made Clementine’s emotional journey riveting. Her edgier costuming stood out, as did her tasteful tattoos and punk haircut that was worn more maturely in the second act.

Both Helen and Becca’s households begin to disintegrate as legal paperwork and medical histories get in the way of the healing process. This is most effectively depicted in the relationship between Becca and her patient husband J.D., played by Patrick McHugh, whose shared moments of tenderness and stress are beautifully believable. Their onstage chemistry — though not convincingly sexual — produced many of the play’s most memorable scenes.

Vivienne Benesch — director of past PlayMakers’ previous shows “Red” and “In The Next Room” — is the master of the split scene, and her dynamic sequences of concurrent action were a highlight of the production.

Benesch seamlessly eases the audience into the aesthetic, starting with fully separate staging and diminishing the distance until actors are playing the same space, even sitting at the same table. This effectively emphasizes how intertwined the lives of the two households become.

Scenic designer Lee Savage takes an abstract, minimalist approach to the set, which consists of a wall of large windows and a movable arrangement of chairs and tables. The entire show takes place inside a waiting room, set on a carpeted floor as opposed to a conventional raised stage.

Salem Smith’s poetic dialogue unfortunately suffered from sporadic melodramatic and didactic deliveries, which left many well-crafted lines ringing hollow. In a play firmly rooted in realism, the effect of these deliveries was jarring.

Original music composed by Peter Kendall for transition videos created by Dominic Abbenante effectively propels the audience in and out of the emotionally charged scenes.

“Love Alone” offers no concrete answers to the age-old problem of grief. Instead, Salem Smith provides a refreshingly balanced view of the effects of medical malpractice and the power of forgiveness through the lives of multidimensional women.

arts@dailytarheel.com

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.



Comments

The Daily Tar Heel for December 1, 2021

Special Print Edition

Games & Horoscopes

Print Edition Games Archive