Boulevard Theatre opens 25th season, lovingly
The Boulevard Ensemble Studio Theatre opened their silver anniversary season last week by tugging provocatively on the heartstrings. Fourplay: 4 Comedies of Seduction, cleverly entices the audience with awakening first love. Themes of love are played in different tonalities throughout the evening, culminating in the nuanced sexual tension of Harold Pinter’s The Lover.
Each performance explores the meaning of love to lovers of different ages and life stages, and all echo the age-old desire to find and keep one beloved person for a lifetime. The night begins with John Patrick Shanley’s The Red Coat. When youngsters Mary (Keigan Vannoy) and John (Hugh Blewett) discover their perfect match on a moonlit night, sharing that mercurial moment of realizing they truly understand each other. The actors carry this moment with refreshing innocence and simplicity. Mary’s red coat symbolizes the transition from childhood to adulthood and the vignette pictures a poignant moment in youth “when nothing could go wrong.”
Elaine Jarvik’s Dead Right humorously focuses on how one will ultimately be remembered, when older husband and wife argue over the contents of an obituary. Death severs physical love but memories remain. What’s said and left to be read between the newspaper lines entertains in this last look at a human life that takes surprising turns as the couple discusses a deceased friend. Barbara Weber (Penny) and Mark Ninneman (Bill) create believable conversation between spouses with touching tongue in cheek banter that concentrates on what one will be known for, by the world and those close to them, in a person’s “one last chance to sum it all up.”
The last comedy in the first act revels in the contemporary pick-up lines used in a coffee shop, that respectable place to meet a special someone. The fast-paced delivery mimics the cadence of emails, texting and tweeting where first impressions can be created and doused in nanoseconds. David Ives’ The Sure Thing will rivet the audience’s attention as Brooke Wegner (Betty) and Ken Dillion (Bill) keep these entertaining comments firing rapidly before they finally meet the one to “love and cherish.”
These three charming scenes lead up to the chilling The Lover, by Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter. First produced in 1962, Pinter’s one-act play presents the enigmatic nature of marriage, uncovering biting wit through the elegant language and lifestyle of an upper crust English couple.
Pinter alternates between the couple’s fantasy life and day-to-day routine, sexuality and domesticity as Sarah (Ericka Wade) and Richard (Jason Will) attempt to live out their latent desires while role-playing a lover and a mistress for one another. The audience always questions the couple’s credibility (as Pinter intended) as they move discussions between love and lust or security and risk with frightening flexibility that questions the viability of their marriage, and ultimately what marriage represents.
The two-hour Boulevard evening produces delightful and degenerate moments to remember afterwards. Delivering comedy and controversy in this production, the Boulevard continues its own commitment to provide theater at every stage of development in Bay View. Thoroughly enjoy this “fourplay” in anticipation of a successful Boulevard 25th season!
Boulevard Theatre’s Fourplay: 4 Comedies of Seduction runs through September 5. More information here.