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Andrew DeRycke, Tracy Hyland,
Carol Roscoe, and Kevin McKeon in
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
Photo credit: John Ulman.

From the title of Book-It Repertory Theatre's current production, "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love", you might think this could be a lovely and romantic date night possibility. Well, nothing could be further from the truth as this collection of four Raymond Carver stories seem to focus on the more mundane, banal and vicious elements of relationships and come across more like Carver exorcising his own demons. So not only is it someone else's therapy on stage but on page as well and was, frankly, boring.

The collection contains four different tales. The first, "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" looks in on two couples as they proceed to get more and more drunk discussing some very disturbing viewpoints of what it means to be in love. Then in "The Student's Wife" a woman who can't sleep keeps waking up her husband to discuss the nature of everything until finally she's left to her own thoughts. In "Intimacy" a successful author pays a surprise visit on his ex-wife who's none too happy about being the subject of his stories for the past few years. And finally in "Cathedral" a woman invites a visiting blind friend and former employer over to spend the night with her and her husband after the loss of his wife.

Maybe you just need to be a fan of Carver but these stories completely failed to grab my interest. All of them just kind of built themselves up to a tepid climax and then failed to resolve anything. They just ended. Add into that the Book-It style which usually comes across much better and is much more interesting but here Jane Jones' adaptation just felt like someone was reading you the book verbatim. And unfortunately it was a book I didn't care for. Again, maybe it's Carver's work that was the problem as much of his stories were descriptions of actions and not so much dialog which led to a lot of the actors saying "She did this" and "He did that" which in a stage play (even in the Book-It style) can just be conveyed through movement. After awhile it just became annoying and felt lazy as I've seen them adapt things much better.

The ensemble of four actors playing multiple characters throughout the four pieces, Andrew DeRycke, Tracy Hyland, Kevin McKeon and Carol Roscoe do a fine job with the pieces especially Roscoe whose rant over being used for her ex's stories was one of the more interesting moments of the evening. But nothing here really moved me that much which is more the issue of the pieces and not the actors.

In a series of short works there's always that safety net that if you don't like one of the pieces there will be another one along shortly. But sad to say I didn't care for any of them very much as they all felt like someone else's therapy and my readers know how I hate that which is why I give this one a bored NAH with my three letter rating system. It may just be that Carver isn't my thing or it may be that I wanted more love in a story talking about love but it just didn't work for me.

"What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" from Book-It Repertory Theatre performs at the Center Theatre at the Armory through October 18th. For tickets or information contact the Book-It box office at 206-216-0833 or visit them online at

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From This Author - Jay Irwin

         Born and raised in Seattle, WA, Jay has been a theater geek for years.  He attends as many shows as he can around the country and loves taking in new exciting... (read more about this author)

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