BWW Review: WITH LOVE AND A MAJOR ORGAN - Witty Quips Connected By Stunning Tech
WITH LOVE AND A MAJOR ORGAN/by Julia Lederer/directed by Jessica Kubzansky/The Theatre @ Boston Court/thru November 5, 2017
Playwright Julia Lederer's WITH LOVE AND A MAJOR ORGAN focuses on the novel conceit of utilizing the actual organ of the heart in all references to the heart as love - actually breaking your heart, physically stealing your heart, a weak heart as the product of two broken-hearted parents, a heart made of yarn being caught on hooks and objects passing by. Lots of clever word play on 'heart.' Lederer smartly chooses to depict the aggressor as being a woman instead of a man.
Bonita Friedericy opens this play as Mona, grabbing the stage with a sure, confident exposition of state of her son George's heart. Seems since she and her husband broke each others' hearts, their son George was doomed from birth born with a broken paper heart. Mona's pleas to doctors for a heart transplant for her little boy landed on deaf ears as her reasoning for a new heart for George didn't even come close to the life-or-death situations of those on the heart transplant lists.
Daisuke Tsuji portrays George as a fairly emotionless human robot with OCD, with a daily ritual for reading the newspaper, and now, a sudden urge to join the dodge ball team. George doesn't just walk onto the subway train, he marches with sharp quarter-turns to position himself standing at the same pole or sitting in the same seat.
Very nicely staged, synchronized eating between Friedericy's Mona and Tsuji's George - a dance of the forks and knives, if you will.
Much credit to Paige Lindsey White for initially charming as Anabel, a fellow train passenger, who after a few train stop brakings and bumping to George, falls in love with him and obsessively pursues him. If genders were switched, with the Anabel character a man, and George's a woman; the cute, non-threatening stalking would be quite unsavory and nothing to laugh at.
Jessica Kubzansky ably, as always, directs this west coast premiere of Lederer's drama, which follows the trajectory of Anabel's pursuit of the bashful, unresponsive George. In the intertwining storyline of Mona attempting to connect via internet sites and actual speed dating, Friedericy's quite crystal-clear transparent in expressing Mona's frustration and bewilderment in rejoining the dating scene,
Technical contributors of Boston Court - always simply stellar. In this production, scenic designer Francois-Pierre Couture creates a gorgeous, metallic subway train interior with center poles, a row of aisle-facing seats and sliding entrance/exit doors. A clever stage device differentiates the sliding doors used as the trains from the same doors depicting Mona's front door.
Projection designer Hana S. Kim's vivid projections effectively defines the locales of the scenes, whether on the moving subway train (with blurring colors or passengers whizzing by behind the 'windows' of the train), or in Mona's home, or at a speed dating establishment. For the complete effect of being on a train, sound designer John Nobori scores with the most complementary braking and engine starting sound effects.
In scenes of Mona and Anabel connecting to their individual websites online, Kim's videos show the audience what the women see on their respective laptop screens.
Co-lighting designers Elizabeth Harper and Rose Malone effectually distinguish the bright subway train atmosphere from the more subdue home setting of Mona's and the restaurant bars Mona speed dates in.
Costume designer Denitsa Blizakova every so subtly changes the colors each characters wear (from blacks and grays to spots of red) according to their openness to their hearts.