The Love Course: Show Review by Reva Solomon


(Playwright A.R. Gurney)

When asked to review this play (my first for MotherhoodLater.com), I had no idea it would connect me, and now you the reader, with a vibrant NY theatre company of a much forgotten genre – the one-act play.

I attended virtually on Zoom, with a small (about ten non-paying patrons) socially distanced in-person audience. They all had their temperatures taken at the door by medical personnel before entering the theatre, as well as the cast and crew, and all were required to wear masks.

Before the start of the play, Food For Thought Productions founder, award-winning playwright Susan Charlotte, gave a little background about the theater company, the playwright, as well as this specific production.

Special permission was given to the theatre by the city of New York and SAG/AFTRA (a first) to present this one time event in the midst of COVID and NY theatre shutdowns. It was the final presentation in the 2020 season of Food for Thought Productions, part of their Monday Matinees at Theatre 80 – 80 St. Marks Place, NYC.

As stated on their website:  Food for Thought Productions, which started out as the brainchild of award winning writer Susan Charlotte, was launched in the Fall of 2000. This acclaimed theatre company presents a series of one-act plays by award-winning writers performed by an alternating repertory of Broadway stars and directors. Our Vision: To create a venue for the one-act play, the oft-neglected short form – Our Philosophy: Less is More.

Food For Thought began as an idea in September 2000. The idea: Less is More. Less production values, less contracts, more room for creativity and profundity of thought. Presenting a reading of a one-act play in an intimate setting allows us to push the dramatic envelope.

Susan Charlotte also shared with the audience, that the actors do not get the scripts ahead of time, but instead are handed the one-act play to be read that afternoon when they arrive at the theatre. A brief two-hour rehearsal read-through and limited blocking is conducted just before the curtain goes up and the reading proceeds.

Ms. Charlotte went on to explain (also on their website): “Our audiences are small so that everyone has a chance to see actors up close and personal. Audiences are privy to a kind of rehearsal-type feeling, watching actors as they discover a moment, a word, a character. They become more of the participant than the spectator.”

Recognizable names have participated in past readings over twenty years including: Patricia Neal, Eli Wallach, Judd Hirsch, Marian Seldes, Estelle Parsons, Cliff Robertson, Rita Moreno, Barbara Felton, Christine Baranski, Anne Meara, Campbell Scott, Kyra Sedgwick, and Elaine Stritch. One-acts read have run the gamut from Tennessee Williams to Chekhov to Arthur Miller. Several years ago Arthur Miller attended the reading of one of his one-acts read by Elaine Stritch and stayed after for Q and A with the audience.

This afternoon in December, the reading was The Love Course written by the late award winning playwright A.R Gurney, featuring actors Larry Pine, Laila Robins, Jeremy Beck and Allison Jean White, and directed by Antony Marsellis. Two of Mr. Gurney’s children attended this performance via Zoom.

In The Love Course, a female professor has been teaching a course on the literature of love with a male colleague. She has fallen in love with him through the books and the experiences of the classroom. Now, in the last class of the year, she is attempting to bring the course and their relationship to a climactic conclusion, all in front of the class.

The actors appeared on stage with no production values such as set, props or lights. They merely read from the scripts in hand. It was a testament to their acting skills, knowing that they had had only a few minutes rehearsal time prior to the reading and did not have the script before entering the theatre.

This one-act play gives a glimpse of unrequited infatuation taken to an extreme…almost to absurdity. It made me think of times in my life when imagination has taken over reality, if only momentary, but it has happened. This play takes fantasy thinking to the extreme. We also get to see the other person – the person being fantasized about – in this scenario and how they handle it. The playwright does a good job of creating this world of unrequited love or fascination in a very few pages – not an easy thing to do. The in-house audience became an intimate part of the play, serving as the class, which gave the actors a chance to play off of them from the stage.

Food for Thought Productions originally produced the World Premiere of The Love Course in 2010, at the Acorn Theatre in NYC, starring Maria Tucci, Harris Yulin, Miriam Silverman and Jake Robards, and also directed by Antony Marsellis.

The theatre company is selecting shows for their 2021 season which begins in February. If you would like to know more about the company, purchase tickets or subscribe, you can find them at www.foodforthoughtproductions.com.

 

Reva Solomon has worked in the entertainment industry for four decades including theatre, television, film, live events, and music in Los Angeles, New York and Atlanta. Her long list of credits include producing, directing, writing, PR and developing/creating projects for theatre, on screen and live events. Reva has been a Creative Life Coach for twenty years, with a client list of varied creative individuals worldwide. She served as a board member on Women in Film Los Angeles and Women in Theatre Los Angeles. She has been an Emmy voting member of the Television Academy, a member of The Musicians Union – Local 47 Los Angeles, a member of The League of Professional Theatre Women (NY), and a twenty-eight year member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Reva is also an award-winning mixed media visual artist. She is a member of WCA – Women’s Caucus for Art and serves as the Chair for JWAN – Jewish Women’s Artist Network. She lived and worked in Los Angeles for thirty-seven years before following her heart and moving to NYC where she now resides.

 

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