Til Love Do Us Part
nytheatre.com review by Julie Congress
February 24, 2012
We’re told that there’s a thin line between love and hate and Andrew Hall’s ‘Til Love Do Us Part certainly exemplifies this. The play spans many decades, following the heated (passionate and angry, often both simultaneously) relationship of John and Virginia Walker from their first kiss to the assisted living home. The play, though heavily expositional, provides an interesting perspective on love as the couple fights and loves to the bitter end.
John and Virginia, we learn, first met at a graveyard—John was at his father’s funeral, while Virginia was attending her mother's. They exchanged numbers and, as the play begins, Virginia has come to John’s apartment. An enigmatic, mute Young Girl watches everything unfold—as John and Virginia open up to one another, fall in love, marry, age and give up on their dreams.
A morbid fascination pervades: not only is there a large coffin in the center of the stage (constructed by AJ Cote), but we are constantly aware that the show is focused on mortality. John and Virginia frequently tell each other they wish the other was dead. Virginia’s smoking is a constant source of argument for them, as well as the revelations that are made about their dead parents. The couple was brought together by death and it hangs over them, just as the mute girl hangs on their every word and movement.
Marshall Louise has a commanding presence and beautiful precision of movement as the mute specter, watching and moving with a lovely sense of naivety and wonderment. Robert Latrenta and Abigail Milnor-Sweetser, as John and Virginia, have a harder task—to age a lifetime in under an hour. They make a valiant effort, but do rely rather heavily on theatrically indicating aging—broad gestures of backs hurting and forced coughing all come across as theatrical shorthand rather than honesty.
Hall’s script does provide some interesting twists, particularly the development of the Young Girl. But we are too often told how much time has passed and what has happened in that time and this exposition often makes the dialogue feel forced and unnatural. Director Cameron J. Marcotte paints some very nice pictures and the staging is clean and simple. As this piece grows, I hope that Marcotte and the cast can find more nuance and subtlety in action and language—right now it feels like only very large strokes are being drawn.
The young cast and crew of ‘Til Death Do Us Part are definitely talented. With further development, subtlety and more showing rather than telling, this show has the potential to be a very provocative piece about love and hate, life and death.