For Love and Theater

Playwright Itamar Moses puts it quite nicely when he states that “a short play is like a single.” However, unlike a pop single, which can often become more popular than the longer album format, short plays tend to get relegated to the dust bin, pulled out for One-Act Festivals in the summertime, maybe, but otherwise, playwrights tend to become known only for their longer works. This is a shame as there many truly delightful short plays. Thankfully, the Flea Theater is producing five of Moses' short plays in an evening titled Love/Stories (or But You Will Get Used to It). The Flea's downstairs space works well for the structure of the show — each play has its own section on the wide stage. A “Reader” guides the audience through the transitions and through the final play itself. The plays are thematically linked: they are about love. But not only just about love but about the inner workings of theater and perhaps how difficult it is for one to find love while working in theater. In the first play, “Chemistry Read,” a playwright is forced to watch the actor who stole his girlfriend audition for the lead role in his play. In “Authorial Intent,” the longest of the five plays, we are taken through the breakup of couple, first in regular format, then in highly theatrical and literary technical terms, then finally as the actors playing the actors stripped of their characters. “Untitled Short Play” is all about the writer's stress in attempting to write a scene for a couple at a cafe.

The plays all have charm and the actors are all very engaging and energized, but occasionally the meta- nature of the plays gets to be a bit much. “Untitled Short Play” is the most static of the plays, given that no action in the traditional sense occurs—it is a play “hijacked by its opening stage direction.” However, John Russo is vibrant as the Reader, hopping around the Flea's wide stage obsessing over what could possibly happen in the scene that never happens. One would like it if the “play” were to actually begin, but then again, the Reader is quite compelling and his complaints understandable.

The strongest of the plays is “Szinhaz,” which is structured as a talk show, with an actress, Marie, interviewing a brooding Russian director. The director, Istvan, only speaks Russian, or at least something that sounds Russian. Felipe Bonilla pulls off the “Russian” language, be it actual Russian or not, very well. Marie's attempts to translate Chekhov's titles from Russian to English are quite hilarious as well: The Garbage Bird and There are Sisters and There are Three of Them. “Szinhaz” deals with the relationship between what is created in the theater and what actually then begins to occur in real life: the way in which actors playing lovers occasionally fall in love offstage as well, as they have become so wrapped up in the emotions created for the theater.

Love/Stories (or But You Will Get Used to It) makes for an enjoyable night of theater, particularly for anyone on the “inside” of theater and for anyone who has ever been enchanted by love.

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