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Hurts So Good

February 20, 2018

28381417_10155137341412750_272032904_nScrew “love” give me the warped endearing odd worlds presented in Love Hurts from Force of Nature Productions. At least this way after going “awwww” you can laugh at the absurdity that is the world of love. Love, that absurd dance with death which brings about life and change in our lives.

Speaking of dancing, that’s where we kick this adventure of vignettes; I’m assuming a group of vignettes is an adventure, because that’s what Plays are an adventure of emotions, FON is good, better all the fucking time, at weaving those adventures together in semi coherent arcs. While each story stands alone as it’s own entity, the gestalt of the jigs fit together, a moving flow of emotions with Sebastian and Andy acting as our emotional conductors as much as directing the directors and actors.

First shot to that funny snarky side of whatever organ serves as the seat of love is the Cupid Shuffle (Written by Stephen Anthony Bailey, directed by Tom Jones), a slice of life/love gone wrong and what new things can happen in the wake of an ending. Even if things end before they began. Funny, witty and touching Cupid Shuffle not only kicks off the night right with smiles and joy, while showing “love” is alwayse more complicated than the simple four-letter English word. Friends, even new ones can strike various cords within our souls, we simply need to find the right dance partners.

If Cupid Shuffle showed us an overlooked angle of love, 5am Workout (By Mike Knowlan, directed by Corey Chappell) takes a stroll down the humorous side of the beginning of a famous horror story. Go mad or flee screaming into the darkness of ignorance and superstition. Whatever happens when you can suddenly read the minds of those attracted to you, it isn’t pretty. It also plays out in hilarious, paranoid, self-absorbed ways on stage and it is glorious.

Most folks have a story and then a prop, but Sebastian does things oddly and his writers must work odd things into their stories. How do you combine love hurting and a teddy bear? To show us where a childhood was broken of course… Giving credit to Tyler Bianchi for crafting The Ghost Of Valentine’s Heartache which humorously handles what is beyond a painful topic. Props to Brian Hilarious for giving life and empathy to a man and a boy’s bear on stage. Paul Millett directed two strong presences (Stephanie Rojo and Susan D. Marlowe ) to push and pull complex the emotions with grace and humour into something oddly cathartic.

How the hell do you turn a trash bag and a flower bouquet into a stage piece? Be the brilliant Jennifer Novak Chun. Then making something weird warped and utterly perfect is what you do! Only Jenny and the quirky cast could keep the audience in such stitches with Heartbreak Roach Motel (directed by Heidi Marie) that no one realized there was technical difficulties. Nicole Craig helped with that, strutting on stage as a Cockroach Dominatrix in the most twistedly hilarious polyamourous arrangement ever. Managing to tackle social norms and sexism Anne Westcott with David Kaufman and Kyle Felts had the audience laughing and snorting, chuckling through the entire freaking piece.

That’s one thing I can say for Love Hurts, I smiled from the opening moments to the end. Trying not to let my laughter get away from me

That became harder as And They Called it Puppet Love (Written by Steven W. Alloway directed by Jeff Rack) unfolded. I’ve never been one to empathize with the person who strikes out has portrayed, Steven changed that with what he cooked up for Eli Godfrey to bring to life. Endearing, sad, pathetic and I mean all of those as compliments to the life Eli brought forth on stage. This poor bastage has a puppet for a best friend, and that should be the makings for a Seth MacFarlane style buddy comedy, but no, you get something poignant and oddly tragic for a short peace in a show of short stories. I was sitting there hoping Tosca Minotto’s character would at least give the guy a fake number or something, but what happened with Susy Vera and that Dustin wow…

Coming into the close of the show you need a good anchor. Go weird or go home, and to that end no one does fucking weird and just wow than Ian Heath on stage. Pushed further; directions I hadn’t seen before. Looking at the playbill, that makes sense. Jahel Corban Caldera, the too talented, was directing. What were those rehersals like, I digress, The Foolish Lover’s Game (by Roert J. Watson) was a perfectly happy weird silly end to a lovely weird heartfelt show. How one makes a couple of murders and adultery come off as heartfelt and sweet, Melissa Muñoz might have something to do what that. If it’s possible to steal stages from Ian her charm as the evil beauty Miss Cordova will have done it.

This, wasn’t just a thoroughly enjoyable show to see, but to review in the verb sense of writing this review. Seeing the show play back in my mind brings a smile to my lips still. It was a good show, demonstrating not only the multifaceted nature of Love itself, but that Force of Nature Productions is pushing challenging reaching for newer and grandeur vistas. This is easily the best show from the FON team with Sebastian and Andy working some lost magical art. Which as was pointed out recently, I’ve seen Sebastian’s work on stage for more than a few years now.

 

With this being the start of the season, I can’t wait to see what Force of Nature Productions has in store for 2018. We’ll need whatever smiles and tears they can stir this year for sure.

 

Love Hurts: A Rush Story ran Feburary 16-18 in North Hollywood at the Belfry Stage.

For information on future projects, and you really should look them up, www.fonproductions.com

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