Love Notes: A St. Valentines Day Pastoral
Written by John Shanley, Dorothy Parker, Sam Shepard, and others
Directed by Arlen Bensen
Performance Space Orlando
by Pam Dirac
Love is a multi-variate problem, as I'm sure your calculus professor reminded you every February 14. Opening this year's solution at Bistro PSO is a paean to the romantic man that tamed the American west, at least in the minds of those who don't travel much. Big guy J.J. Ruscella roars into the intimate PSO room, looking for love and whiskey, not necessarily in that order, and not too good, if you please. What would a good woman do to win him, and save him from those twin evils men love so much? It's not healthy, that's certain. Ruscella and Angela Jo Strohm swing from the wild west to the even wilder high school years, exploring what it takes to have a first love, and even more dangerously to express that love with the six gun of rejection always lurking around the corner.
Interspersed with poetry, readings, and a segment from Shepard's Danny and the Deep Blue Sea , Love Notes constructs a strong presentation for the packed house of lovers and others. Intimate is a bit of an understatement for this tiny venue, especially with the Bistro seating, beach blanket bingo wine chillers, and a half dozen active actors bouncing around emoting. The evening's finale showcased Sam Shepard and Joseph Chaikin's post-beat poem, Savage/Love . With the cast safely tucked up on chairs on risers, each equipped with a personal lamp dimmer, they described the fracture of love, one phase at a time. This show is certainly a BYOB -- Bring your own boyfriend.