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The Shop at Fort Fringe, 607 New York Ave. NW.
Wednesday, July 20, at 8:00pm
Saturday, July 23, at 3:45pm
Sunday, July 24, at 1:00pm
They say: “Why are actors freaks? This parody of an actor’s life will take you from the first glimpses of eclectic behavior through the insanity that forces actors to take off their clothes at inopportune moments and scream profanities at the help.”
Greg’s Take: There is a fundamental misconception at the heart of Love Me! (Why Everyone Hates Actors). I have a great many friends who are actors, and most of them are lovely people, certainly not deserving of hatred on a scale as vast as the title of this play. However, it is my experience that people at large do tend to hate a very specific type of actor. This actor thinks that everything they do, every joke they tell, every detail of their lives is crucially importantand that these things do not need to be presented in a particularly relatable way. By simply happening to the actor, they are by definition worthy of repeating. And it is this type of actor whom we see at the center of Love Me!, a self-absorbed protagonist in triplicate.
The play was written and directed by Cyle Durkee, who casts two actors as younger and older versions of himself, while enlisting a third actor to narrate autobiographical vignettes from a first-person perspective. It is these vignettes that form the basic foundation of the show’s plot, starting in early childhood and tracing the vague outline of a human being all the way through to the present day. Alex Vaughan as said narrator might be a very good actor himself, but we don’t know, because the only medium he’s given to work in is sarcasm. The same goes for the rest of the cast. They’re given very few opportunities in a script composed mostly of snappy one-liners to become fully realized characters. In fact, the only real speed this play has is sarcasm: The dialogue is unrelentingly snarky from start to finish, and even the tender moment of genuine human connection at the end has a smirking cleverness that undermines the cathartic release.
Ultimately, this is a play about growing up, coming into yourself, and learning to rely on others and be relied upon in return. But for a play that puts so much stock in the concepts of love and support, it doesn’t put a lot of effort into developing any characters besides the main. The one notable exception is Adam Adkins as Cyle’s father, and it is a testament to Adkins as an actor that his guy makes a really likeable dad. The fatherly love he exudes towards his kids is genuinely believableand not an easy task with a script that would rather treat family members as a series of witty observations than actual people.
In his director’s note, Durkee advises the audience that Love Me! is a satire. The events are exaggerated and heightened in order to better fit the medium of theater. This is funny. Still, there are things his script uses to get laughs that are categorically not funny. Hitting children is not funny. The attempted suicide of a loved one is not funny. The play uses both of these for the sole purpose of a cheap laugh. If it had moved on from these incidents in a heartfelt, honest mannerthat happened to be funny along the waythat might have been OK. Unfortunately, Durkee hasn’t put in the extra work.
All of this is not to say that the major shortcoming of Love Me! is its autobiographical subject matter. Rather, Durkee’s script makes very little attempt to give any of the recreated anecdotes a universal significance. To the audience, they don’t mean anything; there’s no real effort to make those anecdotes add up to something.
That may be the real reason why everyone hates actors. They can be really self-centered sometimes.
See it if: You don’t mind a heaping helping of sarcasm to tie together a series of real-life vignettes.
Skip it if: You feel family members deserve better than that.