BWW Review: Odalys Nanin Produces Her Love Struck in Outstanding Benefit Performances
Benefit performances of this sparkling play Love Struck by Odalys Nanin and Marie Barrientos were held August 16, 17 and 18 to sold out audiences at the Zephyr Theatre on Melrose in Hollywood. It is one of Macha Theatre's most popular plays alongside Garbo's Cuban Lover and Frida Stroke of Passion, one that is often requested...perhaps because it is about romance, in this case between two women, a Cuban named Laura (Odalys Nanin) and the other American by the name of Rachel (Tricia Cruz). It is a winner in my book because it zips along with a serious look at the ups and downs of a relationship but never without a glorious sense of humor.
Structured in two short acts, about 30 minutes each, Love Struck is like a fun-filled ride that you never want to stop. It begins in 1994 during the LA riots, when actresses Laura and Rachel are about to leave for a party to celebrate their three year anniversary as lovers. Tragedy looms around them but we never lose the sense of joy and 'party!" as the two dance and show others just how much in love they still are. Then, Nanin takes us back through flashbacks to when they first met, how difficult it was to establish a relationship but how both really tried to make it work. Laura is from a traditional Cuban upbringing, looking at a relationship as serious business while Rachel is American, going through a series of quick love relationships that break up at a moment's notice.
The first act includes a deliciously funny Lucy and Ricky Ricardo segment that the two are rehearsing to present at the Gay and Lesbain Center in LA. The second act picks up where both are realizing that their passionate chemistry has waned. Sex is less frequent, so they see therapists. Laura has built a big LA house that the two rent out, living in the smaller cabin behind, her dream house. Rachel is more prone to live in New York and desires to go back there, where a former lover resides.
The two still love each other deeply so do everything in their power to keep the relationship alive. There is a sequence with an aggressive sex video and props like a playful rubber dildo that is quite hilarious.
What makes the play work for me is the fast pace kept up throughout. Not only does Nanin as director keep it hopping but it is built into her writing. Yes, there are ultra heavy spats, but they do not lag. A spat moves into a silly handcuff sequence. Serious and comedic moments collide and overlap each other at breakneck speed, keeping the audience riveted and simultaneously entertained.
If Nanin mounts the play again, don't miss it and look for another mounting of Frida, February 2020 at Casa 0101 Theater. See my interview at the link below.
(photo by Michael Helms)