LOVE IN PIECES
nytheatre.com review by Tim Douglas Jensen
The program notes for Love In Pieces, a play in four parts,
describes Saturday Players as a new troupe looking to eliminate
physical boundaries between actors and audience by incorporating
the audience into the action on stage and encouraging audience
interaction by adding improvisational techniques to scripted
work. This led me to believe that Love In Pieces would be
such a piece. However, with the exception of a line tossed to
the audience and in-between scene introductions, this is not the
August 15, 2002
Love In Pieces is a contemporary retelling of scenes between well-known characters from myth and Shakespeare. Exploring boredom in the boudoir of Antony and Cleopatra, sibling secrets between Laertes and Ophelia, and the private discourse between Orpheus and Eurydice and Cupid and Psyche, playwright Sarah Morton cleverly tackles the possible "what ifs" in the four scenes. Each scene is language-heavy, leaning more on conversation than action and giving the large weight of execution to the abilities of the actors and guidance of their director. Unfortunately, Lisa Gardner and Ryan Brack play the four varied pairs with so much similarity that, without program notes and costume changes, it is difficult to distinguish one set from the next. The actors talk at each other, barely listening to each other, and the words just become words.
Blackouts end each scene, followed by the raising of bland house lights and nonchalant scene introductions (sometimes mumbled) by the actors. Since all of the scene changes take place in front of the audience, perhaps incorporating more technically-imaginative scene changes could give the piece a well-needed thread and lift. Lisa Gardner (who also serves as director) stages Scene 3 well by using most of the very deep playing area (complete with seemingly ancient, large-based iron pillars) as Orpheus and Eurydice journey out of Hell, but I could have done without the bright white light aimed at my eyes throughout their trip.
Writers perform or direct their own work often, which many say is ill-advised. We have many fine examples that it can be done…and done well. That being said, the combination of actors directing themselves is most dangerous. The director is usually an objective eye and if an actor is really focused on their work it is next to impossible to truly be objective about that work. Love In Pieces might benefit from Lisa Gardner choosing one hat or the other.