BWW Review: AN INFINITE ACHE at South Camden Theatre Company is a Production Meant to Be
Have you ever loved someone so much that it hurts? Have you ever been on a first date and thought about all of the possibilities of the future you could have with the person in front of you?
An Infinite Ache, by playwright and TV writer David Schulner (New Amsterdam), is a fresh and heartfelt play about love, time and the infinite directions in which two lives can travel. Hope (played by Kimie Muroya) and Charles (played by Steve Harding) are a pair of lonely twenty-somethings about to end a supremely uninteresting first date. But just as they say good night, the myriad possibilities of their futures and a life shared together come rushing to meet them. From their first kiss to their first child, from a horrible tragedy to a second chance, each moment moves with breath-taking speed. A love story told with theatrical flair, An Infinite Ache is as dazzling as it is insightful.
The Waterfront South Theatre in Camden is an intimate setting for this personal piece. The play stars only two actors, and South Camden Theatre Company Artistic Director, and An Infinite Ache director, Raymond Croce, has kept the focus of the play on the actors and their onstage chemistry. Scenic designers Robert Bingaman and Joshua Samos have created a simplistic but effective setting for the play. The stage is raked, leaning slightly toward the audience, and the set itself is a collection of retro wooden bedroom furniture that stays onstage through the entire show. Most notably, behind the headboard of the bed, an almost abstract representation of a back wall breaks out into fractals that veer offstage indefinitely, highlighting the script's cyclical nature and emphasis on infinity.
The bedroom furniture is an important element of the play. It is almost as if the play itself is told through the eyes of the bedroom furniture. Charles mentions in the first scene of the play that the bedroom set has been in his family for generations. No matter where Charles and Hope move, and no matter what stage of their life they are in, there is poignancy that all of the scenes of the play take place in a bedroom with the exact same furniture that Charles' family has had for years.
A central them of An Infinite Ache is the Yiddish word "bashert" referring to the concept of a spouse or partner that is divinely predestined: a soulmate, or "meant to be" as it is referred to in the play. The playwright sets up the play so that you believe Charles and Hope are meant to be together. And there is a tinge of despondency because you as the audience know how great their future could be though their first date is not going very well. If only they would give each other a chance...
Schulner's script is full of nuances, and is very well-crafted. The author constantly blends the physical and metaphysical, specifically the "ache" that is the play's namesake. The "ache" appears in several forms throughout the play. Perhaps the first ache in the script is Hope's headache which in a way initiates the play when she lies down for a nap that launches the play into the dream-like "life flashing before your eyes" of the couple's possible life together. Then Charles explains an ache that he feels at the height of his love for Hope. The ache is sometimes positive, like the moment before something exciting, but the ache also is longing for someone, or something.
And, of course, infinity is a central theme to the script. Schulner only scrapes the surface of the infinite types of love we can feel, but he does like to highlight the cyclical nature of infinity, ending where the first scene left off (during Charles and Hope's first date). The script also has an open ending leave room for what is next, leading the audience to have hope that the couple will choose to pursue each other.
South Camden Theatre Company's production of An Infinite Ache has great pacing. It is a one-act show that has no intermission and runs about an hour and a half. The way the script is crafted, the play is comprised of vignettes that create a montage of "what ifs" in the relationship between Charles and Hope. I commend the actors, and Croce's directing, for being creative, keeping up the pacing of the script, remembering the sequence of scenes, and keeping the emotions "fresh".
Schulner's play is a relatable story, filled with humor, heartbreak, and longing. The characters, as well as their situation and relationship, resonate no matter what stage of life and love you are in. Muroya and Harding together are endearing and funny. They have a believable push and pull, acting comfortable and uncomfortable with each other, morphing as their relationship in the play constantly changes. Croce's directing has intention and makes the production seamless. Overall, the play is thought-provoking as well as entertaining.
An Infinite Ache plays now through May 18th at The Waterfront South Theatre in Camden, NJ. For more information about the show and to purchase tickets, please visit www.southcamdentheatre.org