BWW Review: LOVE at Marin Theatre Company
By Kate Cortesi
Directed by Mike Donahue
Marin Theatre Company
Straight out of recent headlines of #metoo, Bill Cosby, Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein comes the World Premiere of Kate Cortesi's Love, a clever, well-acted examination of sexual abuse from the perspective of abuser and victim that challenges the black and white image of right and wrong by adding in heavy shades of grey. The results are a thoughtful, yet perplexing look at the dynamics of sexual power politics.
Otis (R. Ward Duffy) likes his employees young, pretty and vulnerable. The fact that's he's married with a kid doesn't stop his predatory, serial sex abuse. He's charming, sexy and knows his craft. Obviously, he's an abuser, no black or white here. Enter Penelope (Clea Alsip), a future surgeon seeking a diversion from her studies. She screws up her interview with Otis by including a faked letter of reference and is mortally embarrassed, making her extremely vulnerable and appealing to Otis who hires her on the spot.
The plot is structured to flip between the years 2003 and 2018, following Otis' many indiscretions and the women who decide to go public with their stories. Vee (Rebecca Schweitzer) and Whitney (Mari Vial-Golden) are united in their search for justice, but Penelope, who now married to Jaime (Bobak Cyrus Bakhtiari), is having trouble reconciling her complicity and emotional attachment to Otis. Here's where the murky grey area arises; Penelope believes she loves Otis, sleeps with him again and again and seems to need affirmation from him.
New York Times reporter Ron (Robert Sicular) asks probing questions of Penelope in researching his article and this pushes her into the other victim's cause. The acting is sincere and authentic and Clea Aslip shines in the role many women may face when confronted with the reality of situations where sex and power merge. Love speaks to the immense control males wield and perhaps always will. It's the newfound strength of women to challenge that paradigm that is the focus of this production.
Love continues through March 29, 2020 at Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley. Tickets available at www.marintheatre.org or by called (415) 388-5208.
Photo Credit: Kevin Berne