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Narcissism by any other name

June 13, 2013

p_1146_i_8728882Me Love Me (Directed by Mark Warzecha) examines narcissism from an interesting angle. To explain the angle in question let me ask a question of you. Is it masturbation or rape, to trick you clone into drunken sex? The show and my review are not here to answer that question. I’ll leave the philosophical & moral dilemma up to you.

Me Love Me follows the life of Tuck (Benjamin Durham) an out of work actor trying to make it in Hollywood. Gemma (Lezzie Adelman) his long time girlfriend supports the two of them between her day job and performance art. Their lives are turned upside down when they meet Tuck (Sto Strouss) or rather Cluck (for Clone Tuck).

Me Love Me is a dark and twisted humor. It’s dark and twisted because it deals with reality (clones aside), it shows life isn’t alwasye sunshine and daisies. It’s twisted in another way though. At every intersection when I thought the story was going to make a right, they swerved left. They even threw in a u-turn that I didn’t see coming. It was a wild ride and I enjoyed every minute of it.p_1146_i_4151444

A fair bit of warning, this show deals with some extremely adult material. The juxtaposition of Tuck‘s cynicism and Cluck‘s naivete allow for an interesting on stage dynamic. On the one hand Tuck appears a villain for corrupting Cluck. On the other you feel pity for Tuck, who is an absolute failure at everything he attempts. He stays out late, misses his call backs, throws away a relationship with an amazing and understanding woman. Speaking of relationships, you can’t help but feel sorry for Gemma. Not only is her relationship on the rocks, but she comes home from work and performing to find out her boyfriend taught his clone how to give him blow jobs. It’s enough to drive anyone to the breaking point.

p_1146_i_3619550The individual performances are spot on. Benjamin comes off as a lifelong looser, but makes you feel pitty for him. Sto pulls off a combination of being naive and wise at the same time. Lizzie stole the show. At one point I was gripping my cane, clenching my teeth and screaming (in my head) “No don’t flop your lines on opening night!”. As it turns out that was all a ploy, an issue with her character I don’t want to give too much away. Her performance in that one scene made my night. Her gestures, body language, hesitation in her voice. It screamed realism, as soon as the audience realized it was part of the act we gave a collective sigh of relief. In all of her scenes she added much needed tension in the comedic flow. I look forward to seeing her on future stages.

Me Love Me pulled off something else, and that’s the weight of reality. Some stories don’t separate you from reality, some convince you to ignore what you know is real. Truly great stories, and acting make you forget the world outside even exists. This is in part good writing, acting, and direction. All three need to be present, and when they are the sum is greater than the parts. I forgot the real world existed. What was happening on stage was real for the briefest of moments.

In the end the story arc finished its course. It might not finish where I expected or even hoped, but all the plot points came to a close. You even get the sense that each character grew. Everything was left on stage, and finished. What more can you ask for other than many good laughs and closure?


Me Love Me (written by Brandon Baruch, Directed by Marc Warzecha) runs at Hollywood Fringe.

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