Venue: The Clinic
Remaining Performances: Saturday, July 24th, 3:30 p.m. Sunday, July 25th, 6:30 p.m.
They Say: “What do you know about that LOVE GAME ? JT Angel Productions Presents: LOVE GAME, a love epic that follows 5 couples as they embark on a journey of THE GOOD, THE BAD, and THE UGLY of Modern Day Love.”
Sophia’s Take: ‘Love Game’ is the passion project of James Turner. As the writer, director, stage manager, production manager, marketing manager, and star of the piece, Turner explores the theme of contemporary love through five couples that come together to live under one roof for one year. As you might imagine, the very thing that makes this production admirable is also its downfall. Love Game suffers from many of the pitfalls of a production lacking in an outside eye to keep it on track. The long awkward scene-changes derail the pace and the blocking of the group scenes doesn’t always allow the actor that’s speaking to be seen.
As a writer, Turner gives his play an interesting structure. Most of the scenes play out in the house in which all ten characters live, though what brought them together for the year in question is never made clear. An eleventh character, an angel, a kind of divine-presence Greek Chorus, offers opening and closing monologues, and occasionally appears to comment on the action and explain the lessons we are meant to learn. Though played with aplomb and charm by Valerie Howard, the angel would be less necessary if Turner’s point of view were clearer within the content of the scenes.
Turner attempts to tackle everything from inter-racial relationships, to infidelity, to how anatomy limits the extent to which men and women are able to understand each other. It takes courage to address such complicated issues, and there are many thoughtful lines peppered throughout the show, yet any one of his subjects could be a whole play unto itself. On the basis of which characters find happiness and which do not, we can hazard a guess at Turner’s point of view. Too often, however, the big questions are asked, and are then left hanging in the air, without being thoroughly explored.
All this said, the creativity and rapport of the ensemble is apparent. A natural and charismatic comedic performer himself, Turner has gathered many confident and skillful actors to his team—Willie Lee, Lauren Ash-Morgan, and Allison Hayden, in particular. Renee Holtz also stands out for her strong and regal presence.
‘Love Game’ is also not without wisdom. When either Turner, or his assistant director and fellow castmate Amin “Drew Law” Dallal, are able to direct the smaller scenes, Turner’s point of view suddenly becomes much clearer. Two of Turner’s couples are granted happy endings in a series of insightful final scenes. For instance, when Raymond sits down with his ex-girlfriend and first love to gain closure, they realize that attraction and shared history do not amount to love in the present moment, and the work feels tender and truthful.
See it if: You want to see a passionate ensemble of performers wrestle with questions about love, lust, and making peace with the past.
Skip it if: You expect them to have found all their answers.