“LOVE/SICK” – compressed but complex – with convincing characterizations

“The Answer”: Cameron Skaff & Julie Nolasco

FLORIDA STATE COLLEGE AT JACKSONVILLE FINE ARTS DEPARTMENT

DramaWorks Review by the Dual Critics, Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

DramaWorks at the FSCJ Wilson Center presented the North Florida premier of “Post to Post Links II error: No link found for term slug "LOVE/SICK"” as a main stage production during November 3 – 6, 2016. The playwright, John Cariani, may not be known to you by name, but many theatre goers will be familiar with “Almost Maine,” his most successful play, which was written in 2004.  The play was the most popular play in the country in 2010, overtaking the decades-long popularity of productions of the works of William Shakespeare. “Almost Maine” has played at just about every community and high school theatre in this area. To refresh your memory, “Maine” was a series of eleven short scenes set in a small town in Northern Maine in the middle of winter. The scenes showcased characters struggling with aspects of love.

“The Singing Telegram”: Meenan Williams & Talise Zide
“The Singing Telegram”: Meenan Williams & Talise Zide

“Love/Sick” is similar in that the production had nine short scenes, each with a couple concerned with the role of love in their relationship. The setting was described as an alternative suburban reality. While the stories are portrayed sequentially, all take place at the same time; a Friday night in late June. The ages of most characters range from twenties to thirties; one couple is middle-aged.

All the characters were interesting and well-portrayed by students majoring in theatre at FSCJ. Of course, we had our favorites as did others in the audience. In “The Singing Telegram,” Talise Zide as the recipient of the telegram was serenaded by Meenan Williams, who may very well be seen in a future musical, as he sings well.

“Obsessive/Impulsive”: Jamie Iovino & Cross Blocker
“Obsessive/Impulsive”: Jamie Iovino & Cross Blocker

“What? I?“ was a story of two men attracted to each other. Preston Pittman appeared as Andy; Noah Bennett as Ben. Both actors were excellent. Mr. Bennett is the only cast member who has been involved in both FSCJ and local community theatre productions, appearing at Players by the Sea in “Gross Indecency,” “Jesus Christ, Super Star,” and “Young Frankenstein.”

“Obsessive/Impulsive” was a bit over the top, as a young man and woman (Cross Blocker and Jamie Iovino), who meet in a mega-store while pushing shopping carts, suddenly erupt emotionally and engage in a wild and prolonged kissing scene.

“Destiny” was another favorite, with Savannah Raney as Emily and Preston Pittman as Jake; both convincing as grey-headed “older folks.” As they meet in the mega-store, we learn they were once married, but divorced years ago. Now, she is a widow waiting to catch a plane, while he is again divorced. They make an attempt to reconnect but just can’t make it work out.  

“Uh-Oh”: Zach McKinney & Krysta Ocampo
“Uh-Oh”: Zach McKinney & Krysta Ocampo

Other stores included “The Answer” with Cameron Skaff and Julie Nolasco; “Un-Oh” with Zach McKinney and Krysta Ocampo; “Lunch and Dinner” with Noah Bennett and Savannah Raney; “Forgot” with Joseph Ingram and Aimee Masci; and “Where Was I” with Krysta Ocampo and Julie Nolasco.

”What?!?”: Noah Bennett & Andy Preston
”What?!?”: Noah Bennett & Andy Preston

The set designed by Johnny Pettegrew and Robert Rupp was unusual, a massive versatile three-story affair on wheels which was rotated by a stage crew for various scenes. The set was constructed by students in Drama Practicum and Technical Lab classes.

Love/Sick was directed by Ken McCulough, Professor of Theatre and head of FSCJ’s Theatre Performance Program at the South Campus. For the past twenty-two years, Mr. McCulough has staged plays we would not have seen elsewhere on our local stages. Past favorites included “James and the Giant Peach,” “The Women of Lockerbie,” and “Jacques Brel is Alive and Living in Paris.”

The Production Team included Tyler Hammond (Stage Manager), Simone Hawkins & Jamie Iovino (Assistant Stage Managers), Candace Dickens (Prop Design), Samantha Catone (Sound Design), Ken McCulough (Director), Johnny Pettegrew (Technical Director, Lighting and Scenic Design), Robert Rupp (Scene Shop Supervisor), Carmala Pitts & Dorinda Quiles (Costume Design), and Kara Ward (Light Board Operator).

We are always happy to see new plays with new actors, and the evening ended with the cast members receiving  well-deserved applause for their rendering of these stories – compressed but complex – with convincing characterizations.  

About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.
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