Okay, so suppose there’s no such thing as romantic love. If so, what is it then? A mass elitist criminal conspiracy in support of inhumane diamond mining and smuggling, encompassing anything you could ever procure for or from your Valentine—(or, as to the aforementioned–would that be rendered “Villaintine”?), What– a comically conceptual ruse upon a decided dearth of contraception to yield the furthering of the human race? The sole raison d’être behind Ray Parker Jr.’s “soul” cheeseball classic “A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do),” a ballad which, were it never recorded, would somehow have rent the entire universe asunder, or at the very least have missed the additional opportunity to dumb down humanity’s musical sensibilities adequately enough in order to usher in the New World Order of warbling via transhumanistic allusions such as autotune (a sound reminiscent of a robot being anally probed by an alien), Iggy Azalea or uh…Kanye West. (Dear God almighty, why, Kanye West—why?!?)
So, no. There’s no such thing as romantic love. There are no soul mates, no signs, no symbols, and coincidences are merely coincidences. You will never be intimate with anyone ever again. If there is a God, he probably doesn’t exist, and at this point you may as well hang up your condom case and lope into your ol’ granny panties. Yes, it’s been that long, and you’re beginning to suspect that the sex organs you were dispensed upon conception were intended to assist as mere additional appendages in playing the actual organ (you know, the kind with all those pipes and pistons only an octopus would be much better adept at playing) rather than anything you were ever told. Lies, lies, all of ‘em—LIES!!! Yes, every woman of a certain age—or uncertain age as the case were–can’t help but pose these very series of questions and musings at least once in her lifetime and the Sarah Kelly-created character Jen in “War Stories” just happens to be one of them!
Hers however is more a question of pragmatism vs. passion, and missed opportunities concerning soul mates rather than nonexistent ones (as someone roughly ten years her senior might suspect), as the lights come up on her palpable frustration of never quite meeting precisely that person who makes her feel… makes her feel…exactly like her best male companion from college and/or the proverbial “one that got away”: Sam. Having retained a current and steadfast friendship with Sam, they just never happened to be single at the same time and, oh well…exhibit A engendering the crux of Jen’s frustration. At the moment, Sam just happens to be dating Chelsea. Jen has recently divorced a guy who, from the sound of it, could never be anyone’s one and only. Having been snubbed from attending the wedding, Sam is understandably not speaking to Jen. (And seriously, if all were just and fair, it would have been nice if they’d at least invited him to the divorce!)
So Jen, a therapist assigned to assist in mitigating the multitudes in muddling through their assorted issues of abandonment, along with cognitively baiting their behavior in besting codependency in all its varying constructs, at the tender old age of 30, is looking at a life of vastly insipid spinsterhood bereft of even a cat until…until Jake crosses the threshold of her office door.
He is handsome, he is muscular, he is loony, not-at-all a catch, and seriously no one you would ever want to date. Oh joy!!! It is a mentally deconstructive match made in Heaven, particularly as Jen begins to suspect that she just might know his girlfriend to speak nothing of his girlfriend’s boyfriend… And from here on out the whole thing gets crazy if not riveting!!!
I am completely captivated as I watch this piece, not at all sure where it is going to go next but the pacing, timing, narrative flow, and character development are all spot on! Someone in the audience also likens it to an “L.A. Story”-ish vignette.
Playwright Sarah Kelly as Jen is both sympathetic and suspenseful as she weaves her tale both in story format and dramatic capability. Clayton MacInerney as Sam (yes, we get to see Sam—Oh yeah, he’s involved) is both earnest and arresting. Sarah Schreiber as Chelsea is “like buttah” and it is easy to see why any man would follow her, even to a godforsaken place such as Idaho (whether heavily potatoed at the moment or not). Lastly, Brian Guest as Crazy-Boy Jake plays the role sanely over his lunacy, adeptly making use of enthusiasm as a façade for his insanity!
On the whole, Sarah Kelly, in describing her written work says it all best in the program notes:
“To paraphrase a line from George Orwell’s famous essay Shooting an Elephant, if you wear a mask for too long, it becomes your face. This play is a cautionary tale about just that: the perils of pretending. All of these characters do it, and all realize at some point that they no longer can, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. In the end, they’re all looking for someone who, as Chelsea says, will ‘See them, really see them and not run.’
But then again, aren’t we all?”
All in all, a most gripping tale of love, loss and liberation. Directed adeptly by Stacy Ann Raposa, it is sure to please. Though the ending itself could have been a little more textural with a wrench of unpredictability thrown in, just as you thought it wouldn’t, overall a respectably riveting hour of theatre!
“War Stories” runs until Friday June 24th at the Sacred Fools Black Box, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd.
Remaining show times are:
Friday June 17th at 4:00 pm Saturday June 18th at 11:00 pm Friday June 24th at 8:30 pm
For tickets and information please visit: