Love in American Times at San Jose Repertory Theatre closed this weekend. I didn’t intend to wait this long to write my review, I just thought I should think it over. I thought maybe the production would grow on me, that I would have some revelation about it, that it would sink in. Unfortunately, it didn’t.
Although the show was designed well, directed and acted well, and the fundamental themes and concepts had promise, I felt the writing was forced, it was loaded with predictable, ultimately unfulfilling theatrical devices, and was void of any real believable or likable conversation. I didn’t really feel for or particularly like any of the characters and thus I didn’t really care about them or what happened to them.
The interesting thing is, I actually empathize and can understand the argument that was posed. The “deromaticizing” of love is a topical and modern position that I’ve given some thought to. If you don’t worry about love and just look at common goals and needs, and approach love from a very direct, logical and practical standpoint instead of the emotional, is it still love? Can two people AGREE to terms, can they share the same goals and can that compatibility be as strong as “love.” Can they be more attracted to that agreement than each other and still find a way to physically satisfy each other? Or can you find a substitute for that phsycial love? Can you fit a modern, business relationship into the traditional definition of love and marriage? And, is this matchmaking really all that modern or is it in fact something cultures have been doing for centuries? Is the idea that an arranged marriage built out of primarily financial convienence can grow into “real” love? If you have enough commonalities, can you help but get emotionally involved? Isn’t love just a series of things you have in common? Isn’t THAT the turn on and the inexplicable chemistry part of love?
Indeed, interesting ideas but, in my opinion, the playwright kind of copped-out, kind of half-assed it, and the only thing intriguing, the only real surprise was that it never got better. Disjointed, rough, incomplete, in short… it was forgettable.
At the after party, the play never came up, we didn’t discuss, it was as if nothing was stirred within. I don’t think you need to rant or rave, I don’t believe it is a moral imperative that a play make you feel extremes, but I’d expect it to at least inspire a brief conversation. I was hard pressed even to dedicate 400 words to it.
And so, unfortunately for me, the play can’t receive more than 1 1/2 jewels out of 5 in the tiara. I wanted way more out of this production and even time didn’t heal a lackluster shrug of an impression. No second date for Love in American Times but, this is the first show in a long while at the Rep that didn’t deliver on some level and I have no doubt there is a match in my future at the Rep.