Love Person Review - the languages of love

At Victory Gardens Theater until June 14

The Victory Gardens Theater describes Love Person as “Two couples, three cultures and four relationships - gay and straight - blossom, break, sustain, repair and flourish in this contemporary romantic tale about the “language” of love.” That would be an ambitious undertaking for a TV mini-series.  Did they pull it off in a mere two hours?  Totally!

Arlene Malinowski(Maggie) and Liz Tannebaum(Free)

In an interview with the author in Victory Magazine, Aditi, Brennan  Kapil, offers this:
“With Love Person, I wanted to explore language as the initial point of attraction, to pit people completely unsuited to be lovers against each other, and see what happened.  The connection between a Deaf lesbian woman and a straight Sanskrit scholar is not an easy or natural fit, and …the connection between a Sanskrit scholar and a trash-talking, twice-divorced waitress is unlikely... Creating such unlikely partners in love allows me to explore my actual question - what exactly is it that attracts us to other people?”

Rajesh Bose (Ram)and Liz Tannebaum(Free)

Fascinating discussions about the power and impotence of English as compared to ASL (American Sign Language) and Sanskrit take on substance and seductive muscle when Ram ( Rajesh Bose), a professor of Sanskrit, recites this Sanskrit poem:

Some in this world insist
That a certain whatever-it-is
That has no taste of
Joy or sorrow
No qualities
Is Release

They are fools
To my mind her
Body unfurling
With joy of being young
Flowering out of love
Her eyes floating as with wine and
Words wandering with love
Then the undoing of the knot
Of her sari
Is Release

Rajesh Bose (Ram) and Cheryl Graeff (Vic)

Even as we struggle with the dynamic of “translating” our abstract thoughts into words, something else is going on. At what point does what we “hear” morph whom we love? In Love Person, love transcends sexual orientation, physical attraction, and social structure—dramatically.

The cast— Rajesh Bose (Ram), Cheryl Graeff (Vic), Arlene Malinowski (Maggie), and Liz Tannebaum (Free)—is understated yet extraordinary. It is possible to become completely lost in the credibility of this incredible story. It never felt like acting. To learn more about the creative process of Love Person, read the ensemble's blog at

Directed by Victory Gardens Associate Artistic Director Sandy Shinner, the story is right on the emotional heartbeat. Shinner is also co-director of the Access Project at Victory Gardens, Chicago’s #1 presenter of barrier-free theater for persons with disabilities.

Rajesh Bose (Ram) and Liz Tannebaum(Free)

But the set and the projections clinch the depiction of this mesmerizing world. Set Designer Jeff Bauer’s three interlocking rooms combine with Projection Designer Mike Tutaj’s light boxes that illuminate each area and display the words of each deceptive email creating an organic environment. It communicates—like ASL—in its own non-verbal way.

Cheryl Graeff (Vic) and Rajesh Bose (Ram

Playwright Aditi Brennan Kapil, an actress, writer, and director, of Bulgarian and Indian descent, raised in Sweden, has harnessed her imagination and created a laudably thought-provoking play that has been nominated for the Blackburn Prize, the Pulitzer Prize and the Steinberg Award.

Liz Tannebaum(Free) and Arlene Malinowski(Maggie)

Full performance schedule

Love Person, a bilingual show in ASL and English, runs through June 14. All performances are accessible for anyone who is fluent in ASL.
Performance times: Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 5 and 8:30 pm; Sunday at 3 pm. Additional matinees are Wednesday, June 3 and June 10 at 2 pm. (Exceptions: No evening show Tuesday, June 2.)

The Victory Gardens Biograph Theater is located at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, in the heart of Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood.  For tickets and information, call the Victory Gardens box office - 773.871.3000 – TTY: 773.871.0682 or visit

Photos: Liz Lauren

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