Getting married is often a trying endeavor. Pulling off a double wedding only doubles the trouble. Toss in the complication of a gay couple double wedding with a straight couple and you have Matthew Everett’s play But Not For Love.
Patrick ( Andy Loviska) is happy to be marrying Ephram, as publicly as possible. Eleanor ( Krystal Kennedy) is happy to publicize their wedding, first by calling the local news, then blessing the union by wedding her beloved Roland at the same time. Ephram ( John Cronshaw) is going along with it because not only has his tenacious sister Eleanor found The Duchess ( Natasha St. Clair-Johnson), someone willing to marry both couples, but the ceremony will actually take place in the church the siblings frequented since childhood. And Roland ( Chadbourne Hamblin), well, his lot in life is to have fallen in love with the difficult, passionate, activist Eleanor; so he too goes along with the show.
No one in the wedding party is truly prepared for the hotbed of animosity and violence in which they find themselves. The religious objectors crowded outside pummeled The Duchess with tomatoes as she tries to get into the church. Ironically, the angry mob is lead by Patrick’s younger brother, Jacob ( Nick Sousa). Police Officer “Duke” ( Patrick Tiller) is among the police officers charged with keeping the peace during the ceremony. The officer has his hands full with the rabble-rousers outside the church, but his lonely heart and mind preoccupied with the pretty minister Duchess inside.
There are some nice things about this show. Near the top of the show, there is a soundbite montage that reminds the audience of the innumerable voices and opinions starting with Sarah Palin, ending with Keith Olbermann. Director Richard Warren Baker touched in a very interesting motif for the piece. It would have been nice to have more if it – invisible voice in the dark, all feeling free to comment on an issue that does not directly affect them.
I particularly like the direction. Baker uses the limited black box space quite well. His staging makes great use of set design that is more about defining location than it is about utility to the performers. Every actor felt accessible and physically open, despite the places on stage that received no practical use at all.
Taking into consideration opening weekend adrenaline, half the cast has yet to find that sweet spot for their characters. However, I found the performances of Chadbourne Hamblin and Nick Sousa to be both truthful and engaging.
The premise Matthew A. Everett’s play is great, but it could be stronger. Each person within each couple wants the same thing, just in varying degrees. There is never a real question about if these couples will get married. The questions are how and when. Without a credible threat of someone completely calling the whole thing off, the stakes can only get so high.
In the third act, the Everett seems to be trying to make all the valid arguments - trying to present every pro and con of the situation. However, these arguments just don’t ring true when coming from the characters that ultimately make them. Finally, there are two one-eighties in Act Three that feel contrived. In reality, change takes time. But Not For Love would better be served ending with the residue of something real.
The Renegade Theatre Group’s production of But Not For Love is currently running through March 13, 2011 at:
The Renegade Theatre
1514 N Gardner St
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Reservations : (323) 960-4443
Photo Credit: MONICA BIVENS