Love is an all-encompassing entity. It can be displayed through all five senses. You can hear the sounds of love coming from a bedroom or pining through a radio. You can see it dancing in someone’s eyes or in their gestures. There is a different aroma that follows a couple in love – even food taste different when the person preparing it is in love. In contrast, a person lacking love in their life is as anemic as a person living with diabetes. And this is where the audience finds Beane, the tragic, young protagonist of John Kolvenbach’s brilliant romantic comedy Love Song, when the play begins.
To say that Beane is an eccentric would be an understatement. He lives alone in an apartment void of furniture; his worldly possessions include a cup, a spoon, a couple of pairs of socks, two button down shirts and two slacks. Beane is a shadow and likes it that way. Like the boy in the bubble, he encloses himself in an orb to survive, but for Beane his oxygen is filled with misery. He desires no interactions with humans, if he desires at all. Outside of work, the only people Beane sees are his sister Joan and her husband Harry, an upwardly mobile couple too busy with work for Beane or even themselves for that matter. Then along comes Molly, a hellcat/burglar that robs Beane and incidentally develops a weird infatuation for him as does Beane for her. Suddenly, the light in Beane’s dreary world has been turned on. His whole outlook on life changes, which does not go unnoticed by Joan and Harry. In fact, Beane’s new attitude is contagious and assists in reigniting the romance in Joan and Harry’s life. Molly is like the Sazón that adds essential flavor to a dish of arroz con pollo – there is only one problem with her – she is as real as the Easter Bunny. Once Beane’s secret is out in the open, he must decide whether to move forward or shrink back into the existence he once had.
Love Song is one of the best character studies I have ever witnessed. It is Punch Drunk Love on LSD – a wild, trippy ride into the dimensions of love, loneliness and lunacy – three paths that can sometimes run side by side or collide into each other like a messy intersection. Playwright and director John Kolvenbach aims for the heart and hits his target dead on the mark. I adore this comedy; it is great theatre plain and simple. The cast radiates even brighter than the light Beane has been trying to avoid all his life. Laura Latreille and Ian Barford are a scream as Joan and Harry. Their chemistry was extremely organic. Zoe Winters is the most convincing imaginary girlfriend I have seen and Andrew Pastides makes quite an impression as Beane. Love Song is playing a limited engagement at 59E59 Theatres until May 8 as part of their America’s Off Broadway series. There are many tales of love in the world, but this one that should not be missed.
Photos: Jeff Larkin