Prisoner of Love
nytheatre.com review by Nicholas Linnehan
April 7, 2012
Love can blossom in unexpected places. Such is one of the themes in Prisoner of Love, a new play by Jay Prasad. The play unfolds around Julian, a recently paroled convict who is returning home after being imprisoned for several years. Julian has three adopted eccentric sisters who are wary of their brother's return. But here's the rub: Julian has just been named sole heir to his mother's fortune. The sisters all scramble to find favor, and therefore secure their financial security, with Julian.
During the first act, we are introduced to the sisters, who are as different as can be. One of the sisters, Norma, is a failed playwright who relies on her mother's money to pursue her artistic endeavors. Her boyfriend Kurt, a psychiatrist, has developed a new experimental pill that, if taken over time, will erase memories. Julian is plagued by the loss of his jail mate Alonso, whom he has fallen in love with. So it is an easy sell for Kurt to convince Julian to take the pill.
I was hoping that Prasad would be exploring the ramifications of taking such a pill, as for me this is where the true interesting and dramatic potential of this play lies. Unfortunately, once the second act begins we hardly hear about the pill again. Instead, we are introduced to many sub-plots that felt contrived and distracting.
Roger Yeh, as Julian, does a good job to create an honest character. He is believable and delivers a solid performance. The only problem is that Yeh looks much too young to have done any “real” time in prison. It is unclear how long Yeh's character has been incarcerated, but it was hard to believe that Yeh, who looks in his early 20s, could have been imprisoned for any notable length of time as is suggested in the script. Despite this Yeh delivers a fine performance. Similarly Whitney Brown gives her best as Julian's promiscuous sister Pauline. She captures the fire and pain of her plight well.
Director Rich Ferraioli's staging is often flat. And as written, Prisoner of Love, fails to convey any message. There is notable potential in the piece, but it needs to be streamlined and refocused before it can get there.