Modern Love Play Review - New Play by Anthony Mora Review

Modern Love Poster

Modern Love marks the third play by Anthony Mora to premiere at the Sidewalk Studio Theatre.  In 2006, both “POP: The Principles of Perfection” and “Bang! A Love Story,” which Mora adapted from his novel of the same name, premiered at the Sidewalk.

Modern Love follows the journey of the making of a film called, coincidently, Modern Love.  Hollywood powerhouse Jack Starling (say Jerry Bruckheimer, or a mega producer of that ilk) decides to write and direct a small art house film titled Modern Love.  One of Hollywood’s hottest film stars, Jillian Sands, has been cast in the lead to secure financing and drive ticket sales.  But then the superstar walks, leaving the project with no lead.  In Jillian’s stead an unknown actress is cast whose life so parallels Lisa, the fictitious character she is going to play, that Jack begins to believe she is the character he wrote come to life.  Jack becomes obsessed with her playing the role; and then Jillian returns. 

Aubrie Wienholt Strips it All Down

Along with the above mentioned characters, Carla James is Jack’s production partner.  She is strong, powerful, and quick witted.  Carla is the backbone of the play.  It is her character who keeps things moving and assures that, no matter how deeply Jack gets lost in his obsession, the film will get made.  There is also an eerily funny, bible quoting barroom preacher who Jack meets in a bar.  The preacher is the one person Jack can talk to, since he’s a complete stranger.  

Both a novelist and a playwright, Mora, who has worked as an entertainment journalist and film producer, has written Modern Love in a cinematic style.  The play neither sugar-coats nor glamorizes the film industry and shows how those at the top rung are as confused and lost as anyone, perhaps more so.  Think Mamet, if Mamet wrote stronger females, or LaBute, if LaBute was more sympathetic to his characters.

Ann Convery as Carla

Ann Convery plays razor-tongued Carla with an assured style, bringing her to life with humor, bravado and, in the end, sympathy.  It’s Convery’s character that makes the difficult choices and keeps things on track.  Newcomer Aubrie Wienholt is wonderfully believable as the gorgeous, talented superstar Jillian Sands. Wienholt, who both looks and acts like a star, brings a vulnerability to the character who is too young to be a kid, but not old enough to truly be a woman.  In one of the more confrontational scenes, Jillian, unable to get Jack to agree to her demands, performs a full out strip scene while matter-of-factly outlining her terms.  The barroom preacher is played with messy abandon that hits the mark by Richard Rossi.  This preacher is one of God’s darker messengers.  Rico Simonini, who also played the male lead in Mora’s previous play, Bang!, gives us a believable Jack, a powerful producer so caught up in his directorial debut, that he loses sight of what’s real and what’s illusion.    The illusion being Sharon, a struggling actress whose life seemingly takes a Cinderella turn.  But in Modern Love nothing is black or white and in the end, Sharon, sympathetically and convincingly played by Laura McLauchlin is pressed to make a thorny, difficult decision.  

Ann Convery and Aubrie Wienholt Rehearsing

Modern Love is written by Anthony Mora, produced by Kurt Swanson, directed by Chelsea Sutton and features Aubrie Wienholt, Rico Simonini, Ann Convery, Laura McLauchlin, Richard Rossi, Madison Bauer, Michelle Draper and Stella Valente.

 Modern Love runs from January 16 to February 21st at the Sidewalk Studio Theatre in 4150 W. Riverside Dr., Burbank, CA 91505.  Tickets at $20.00

Anthony Mora and Actors Going Over the Play

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