Theatre students display challenges of romance


Photo by: Contributed Photo

Emily Bochette and Chris Steele portray a couple that is in love. The pair decides marriage is not for them.

Jordan Kirby, Staff Writer

The FMU theatre students performed the play “Love/Sick” by John Cariani in the Hyman Fine Arts Center.

The play was performed on Oct. 19 and 20 and consisted of nine isolated vignettes that explored the difficulties of romantic relationships in a quirky and humorous fashion. Each scene followed the conversations of two characters in different stages of romance. Relationships varied from unfaithful married couples to love-struck strangers.

The opening scene, “Obsessive Impulsive,” took place inside a grocery store. Two unaquainted shoppers claiming to have obsessive impulsive disorder, played by Charday Sparks and Chris Steele, rushed from either side of the stage and impulsively kissed in a store aisle. After romantically bonding in the grocery store over their mutual disorder and several more impulsive kisses, the two worry their feelings are only caused by their uncontrollable impulses and decide to go their separate ways.

Director Glen Gourley said he previously directed Cariani’s “Almost Maine” at FMU and chose “Love/Sick” because he enjoys Cariani’s writing style.

“He writes in such a way that there’s humor in the truth, and there’s truth in the humor,” Gourley said.

Other vignettes, such as “Forgot,” featuring Joy Price and Xavier Nettles as a married couple, do not mask the truth in as much humor. During her birthday celebration, the wife Jill worried the couple “forgot” to have a baby. Confronted with this fear, the husband Keith admitted he is satisfied with the life he has and does not want to have a baby. The scene closes with the conflict unresolved with Jill and Keith silently staring at the birthday cake in front of them.

Because of the large number of character roles in “Love/Sick,” many actors played multiple roles. Nettles played the most characters in the play with a total of three roles. Nettles said studying for a degree in psychology has helped him understand the mind of the characters he portrays.

“Their lives are more than those 20 minutes you see on a stage, like what they did yesterday or what they did in the morning,” Nettles said. “I think about those kinds of things before I get on stage.”

Gourley said the play allowed the set designer, Professor Jared Cole, to try stage techniques such as turntables and projected scenery that FMU had never used before.

Most of the vignettes were staged with heavy furniture. Using turntables, the run-crew was able to quickly change each set with little efforts, according the Cole.

The crew pulled ropes behind the stage to rotate the two turntables and reveal the scene props. A divider on the turntable hid props for the next scene. During intermission, the crew restocked the turntables for the second half of the play. Cole said the turntables helped the play run smoothly.

“With the size of our crew, if we had to carry the furniture on and off, it would probably double or triple the amount of time we needed for a scene change,” Cole said.

Visuals for each scene were projected onto the back wall of the stage. Using projectors, the crew was able to make the stage look like living rooms and grocery stores without stepping on stage.

Two projectors were placed at angles above the actors to avoid shadows, Cole said. The projections blended and created a smooth image in the background, according to Cole.

Audience members said they enjoyed the play’s message. Dr. Linda Jacobs, professor of English, said she thought the play was a bit dark but was a nice portrayal of the romantic challenges in this generation.

Several members expressed confusion at the lack of an overarching storyline to connect the vignettes.

“It was funny, but I expected all the scenes to come together though,” FMU student Courtney Hayes said.