MILLENNIAL take on this thing called love
I was glad I read the Acrosstown' Repertory Theatre's Sloan Henry's ALL's FAIR Playwright's Notes in the program during the show's intermission. Ms. Henry's description of the personal interchanges, actions of the four young adults, millennial, crystalize a me, myself, and I board game like strategy of maneuvers, battles, winning and losing not unlike the table top game of RISK where kings of countries battle for a successful outcome of a winner takes all victory.
This is the final weekend of ALL's FAIR and if you think you have relationships figured out my suggestion is you give this show an evening of your time.
This story of young love pits two couples, four good friends, at odds with each other in search of their interpretation of the missing chalice of love. The ALL's FAIR screenplay was the winner of last year's Gainesville Homegrown Local Playwrights' Showcase and Ms. Henry has created a thought provoking story of would-a, should-a, could-a actions dressed up in the clothing of today's youthful generation of individuals described as millennials.
Kudos and high fives to first time Direct Jennifer Hutton for laying the groundwork for this human exercise, no, Game Of Life v.2018 game. Ms. Hutton sets the stage for this story perfectly in her Director Notes: "Out of necessity we tackle so many aspects of our lives with strategy and intent – The Millenial's mind is hard-wired to approach life like a game."
I thought it was important to start with the back story because the Art Actors right way, and smartly present the four 'leading' characters as young, up and coming professionals ready to take on the world as they see it while any other ideas, plans impacting their lives be damned.
ALL's FAIR story takes place in the home of Axel (Ryan Wicks) and Skylar (Emma Graham) share conversation at a table with there best friends Will (Aleksandr Wilde), and Terra (Asia Zaffere). Skylar confesses to Alex their relationship isn't working and perhaps changing partners with Will and Terra might be good for everyone. Skylar takes charge of the idea and she and Axel hatch an "Art of War"- style plan to break up the other couple to further their own romantic interests.
The story builds to a resounding crescendo when Skylar's self conspired. . . strategy goes awry for her with a surprising unexpected personal consequence upsetting this 'game of love' for everyone.
The ALL's FAIR cast of actors is a strong troupe of individual's comprising an excellent cross section of young adults trying to figure out there roles in a changing world:
TERRA: All ready an established teacher she is ready to make the move with her man where ever his career might take him. Wait a minute, was Axel coming onto her just now?
WILL: Ready to be an important photographer Will's sights are on the future. He and Skylar have been friends since early in their college years. Past times, recollections are fondly spoken about often between the best friends.
AXEL: A second year law student, really not sure about his future, however he is committed to his relationship with Skylar.
SKYLAR: Life isn't working for Skylar. Working as a five-star baker is good. However she misses the good times from the past she and Will shared.
Skylar passively, and very aggressively, weaves a story to include all four of these individuals into considering her plot of changing partners might not be such a bad idea.
Then as Tom Waits so aptly describes, "Hell Broke Loose." In a series of unplanned events this group's ideas, schemes, and actions take a life of their own with surprising consequences.
The A R T Design Team created a masterful set with an impressive 'balcony view' for the Commander (Wilfredo Gonzalez) to view the game of love's match taking place below him. Not to slight this always professional and amazing tech crew but the characters and script were so engrossing the actors could have been standing in a parking lot delivering their soliloquies and I would have been equally absorbed in the outcome.
This was a good show with nice timing for the GLOB Master. I seem to be spending more time with my own would-a, should-a, could-a world of with, or without love.
Watching these four actors on the stage, in front of me, struggling to find their perfect partner left me wondering; "Aren't relationships created by two people partnering together?" Not so for these young people grasshopper, in this group of self centered individuals, er, ugh, twenty first century millennials.
Much applause to Emma Grimm and her portrayal of Skylar, image right above. I am an empathetic guy. I was feeling Skylar's pain as she tried to understanding the emotions of her world. Her relationship was workingght for her. Then her universe turns dramatically upside down. Ms. Grimm's portrayal had my heart hurting for Skylar.
Asia Zaffeeres' Terra steals the scene at the end of the show when she appears genuinely dumbfounded by the acutely painful series of unfortunate events crashing down on her world.
As a male animal I think the actors Ryan Wicks and Aleksandr Wilde gave masterful performances of characters not quite 'fleshed out' as to the degree the female characters were. I speak more about this phenomenon below.
The Commander played by Wilfred Gonzalez moved ALL's FAIR story forward with the tick-tocking of a game clock and smart, clever observations of the intimatelt, personal game of chess being not unlike the thing we call love.
Now that I have seen S. HENRY's play I am left with questions regarding relationships
Interesting the ALL's FAIR male characters both remarry. Does that mean they did not stop playing the game of love? Were they never really impacted by the Skylar's stories, events like the female characters? Or are they just dumb, insensitive men . . .?
Skylar devised, concocted, and manipulated the progress of this game more like a table top game of RISK resulting in a result of marginal losers, subjective winners. Like most worthwhile events, regardless of age, in this game of love winning is in the eye of who is steering the relationship, and that makes the process, result completely subjective.
Most games end with winners and losers and singer songwriter John Hiatt obviously has spent his share of time in the barrel of love writing many, many songs of love and heartbreak:
The ugly ducklings don't turn into swans
And glide off down the lake
Whether your sunglasses are off or on
You only see the world you make
Are you ready for this thing called love
Don't come from you and me,
It comes from up above
I ain't no porcupine, take off your kid gloves
Are you ready for this thing called love
- Thing Called Love
-- John Hiatt
EDITOR's NOTE: Special Thanks to Jennifer Hutton, and the Across Town Repertory team for the ALL's FAIR Images. Actor's trom left in the image at the top of this review: Axel (Ryan Wicks), and Skylar (Emma Grimm), right. Actor' in image center: Terra (Asia Zaffere) and Will (Aleksandr Wilde).
The ART ALL's Fair continues through March 24 with this weekend being the final shows for this Acrosstown Repertory Theatre World Premiere. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information.