REVIEW BY ZARA ZEIDMAN
LOVESONG (IMPERFECT) by José Rivera was a beautiful and clever tribute to love and lust in a world where death has been outlawed. The production is running at the Theater at the 14th Street Y, 344 E 14th Street, New York City from February 8 – 22. There are only three characters in the show, the couple Delilah and Venezio, and Dr. Gopnik who rides onto set upon a bicycle after Venezio drinks from the radioactive waste buckets that are piled in one corner of the stage.
The stacked neon yellow buckets are used as a desk for a typewriter, there are a few pieces of fabric sewn together and hanging from the ceiling, also hanging are a few branches tied together wrapped in Christmas lights. As Delilah discusses her future and dream house with Venezio she starts to add to the set, hanging more fabric and carrying on chairs and a telescope from off stage. This minimal set design creates a surreal space that is mostly imagined by the audience.
Slightly off stage but still visible,
Helen Yee watches the show adding a soundtrack
using a Violin and looper, this element adds
a lot of depth to the environment.
The costume design was excellent, each character had its own distinct look and every costume change heightened the performance and signified a change in the characters mentality. Venezio had his newly implanted Puerto Rican heart exposed in almost every scene, the heart looked very intricately sewn onto the chest of his shirt. Delilah had the most costume changes but each told you exactly where she was emotionally and had the common element of a tutu in every scene. The doctor’s costume; an old fashioned three piece suit was more professional and less eye catching which fit his character completely. In the final scene everyone wears beautiful colorful playful clothing and the contrast in this conclusion is so uplifting.
The set and costume evolution mirrors the journey of the characters completely. The writing is executed beautifully, dancing elegantly between sincerity and humor. Delilah is a woman madly in love with Venezio but frustrated because he cannot commit to her, this is a common dynamic but rarely communicated in such an empowering and honest way. Delilah is played by Sarah Koviak and clearly carries the entire production, she is full of energy, humor, wit, delivering the beautiful one liners with perfect timing. Throughout the production Sarah Koviak hits every emotion from love to depression with a theatrical conviction. Venezio played by Francesco Andolfi does not bring as much energy to the scenes when they were a couple as much as he did when he is in another dimension, there was something distant about his performance and perhaps not enough internal conflict to keep up with Delilah’s frustration with him. Dr. Gopnik (James B. Kennedy) was the weakest link in the trio, although his comedic timing was usually spot on, his rage was not as convincing or entertaining. Dr. Gopnik’s accent was confusing at times and the origin seemed to keep changing. It was difficult to sympathize for the doctor, though the purpose of his character was very interesting, despite seeming disconnected from Delilah, his desperation for her love communicates so much about masculinity and how men crave possession of women so that they may feel in control.
Each character struggles with possession and the theme of only wanting what you cannot have, grieving what is lost when committing, and longing. The build throughout the play of constant frustration and longing makes the final scene so touching and a complete emotional release for the audience. The burst of color, the dance between Delilah and Venezio as they find one another and truly see each other for the first time was such a beautiful sentiment and the actors executed it perfectly, though perhaps their glasses should fly off or be pocketed instead of set down off stage so their bewilderment of seeing again for the first time is not lost even for a moment. The couple keeps coming back together despite their differences and they learn to be playful and free like they were when they were children and this conclusion is so uplifting.
Lovesong is a journey through love, touching on it’s ugly desperation and its childish nature, it gently teases humanity’s inability to learn from our own mistakes, especially that of communication between men and women. There is a subtle commentary on the flakiness of the government as they change the laws on the legality of death and spirituality over and over during the play, each time signified by a newspaper comically flying through the air and landing in a players hands. This comedic look at love and death is a glorious journey, and will be appreciated by theatre companies for years to come, see the original version directed by this iconic writer while you still can.
OBIE Winner, José Rivera (“Marisol” and “References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot”),
premieres Lovesong (Imperfect); February 8 – 22; Theater at the 14th Street Y; 344 E 14th Street, New York City. PREVIEWS: Sat, 2/8 @ 7:30 p.m.; Sun, 2/9 @ 5 p.m.; Mon, 2/10 @ 7:30 p.m.; Tues, 2/11 @ 7:30 p.m.; OPENING NIGHT: Sat, 2/15 @ 7:30 p.m.
PERFORMING: Sun, 2/16 @ 5 p.m.; Mon, 2/17 @ 7:30 p.m.; Tues, 2/18 @ 7:30 p.m.; CLOSING NIGHT: Sat, 2/22 @ 7:30 p.m.
Click HERE for tickets!