If you think you’ve seen all of the small-number-of-actors-play-large-number-of-parts plays, you may be wrong. If you think you’ve seen all of the comic possibilities that arise from these types of plays, you’re most probably wrong. And if you doubt that these zany, fast-paced, audience-pleasing monstrosities make it hard to actually connect with the heart of the characters, you’ve never been more wrong. Love Child is a new play that got rave reviews off-Broadway, and for good reason. Two men play more than two dozen roles as they tell the story of an actor, struggling in both is personal and professional lives, as he tries to open a show with a cast of outrageous artist personalities, in an unconventionally dangerous venue, with his mother/agent in the audience.
Whirlwind Performances Engage Audience Wholeheartedly
HE SAID: With this being a premiere of a relatively unknown show, I was excited, yet apprehensive to see this show, but I am so glad we took the time. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard. The entire audience left the theater looking almost tired from the experience, and that might the best possibly complement to a comedy. But what I thought was going to be just a crazy sprint of humor turned out to have a legitimate story.
SHE SAID: I should admit that I had relatively high expectations for this show. Prior to The Avenue announcing it as part of their season, I had never heard about it, but while I did a little research about it, it seemed like a great concept and had promise to be very funny. I was hoping that it would explode into wild funniness immediately and stay at a high level for the whole evening, which it did not. Instead, it actually had an unexpectedly lovely arc, that started at a digestible pace and then ramped up expertly. What I definitely wasn’t expecting was for the story to be so cohesive, clear and poignant, even at the peak of the crazy funniness.
Comedy Expertly Builds Throughout
HE SAID: I was actually glad it didn’t explode out of the gate. The script took the time to set up the premise and the convention of two actors switching characters, which I was grateful for because it allowed me to appreciate the story more fully and made following the actors bounce in and out of characters a breeze. It also helps that Steven J. Burge and Damon Guerrasio are so exact with their physicality and vocal quality of each character. Part of the fun of the whole show for me was just watching how smooth each transition was.
SHE SAID: Burge and Guerrasio are really a treat to watch. They each take on a small army of characters, sometimes conversing with themselves (at one point Guerrasio manages to slap himself, and Burge simultaneously plays himself and his own back-up dancer). But the real joy is watching them work together. My absolute favorite moments of the show involved intricately timed collaborations between the two of them that were so seamless, by the time you figured out how they were doing what seemed impossible, the bit was over and moved on to something even funnier. I have also never seen this kind of comedy extend into the audience/performer realm (some of the characters they play are watching other they other characters they play put on a play). This new twist made for a rare and awesome connection with the actual audience.
Physical Comedy Precision Pays Off
HE SAID: I think my favorite bit was the more slapstick bits. One of Guerrasio’s in particular is clearly set up well in advance of the payoff, so that you see it coming, but it pays off tenfold anyway. You can tell these men are working hard to get each bit right and the show only gets faster, so precision is key and these guys hit near every time.
SHE SAID: The set and costumes are appropriately minimalistic, because what is on display here is a great script combined with the comic athleticism of the performers. You as you said above, with the help of director Nick Sugar, the two men inhabit such consistent postures, vocal qualities, and physical locations onstage that the audience is never confused about who is saying what. That’s a remarkable feat, and makes it easy to follow this complex story through to its very rewarding end.
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Love Child Deserves Praise and Attention
THEY SAID: We rarely have such strong, consistent opinions about the shows we see, but we both instantly felt the need to tell everyone we knew to go see this fresh new gem at The Avenue. Love Child doesn’t yet have name recognition, but the source material is so strong that we predict it could become one of the most popular small-venue, small-cast comic pieces performed all over the country in years to come. So we encourage you to get in and see this capable company’s rendition of it while you can!
For more information on Love Child, see the Off-Broadway production page. Love Child plays through July 28th at The Avenue. Click the banner for tickets and more information.