Almost love and marriage
Blue Room’s Big Love revolves on varied perceptions of love
The latest production over at the Blue Room, Charles L. Mee’s Big Love, has a lot of fun constantly turning the perception of love and courtship like a big kaleidoscope—there are lots of beautiful colors folding over, but they are not without their sharp and even jagged edges.
Basically, the story is this: Lydia, Olympia and Thyona (actors Jocelyn Stringer, JessLeanne Perry and Michelle Smith, respectively) have escaped to Italy along with their 47 other sisters (who remain, for practical reasons as well as symbolic, offstage throughout) in avoidance of their pre-arranged Greek marriages to 50 cousins. If this sounds like the stuff of myth, you’re on the right track—as the program notes point out, Mee based his play on Aeschylus’ The Suppliant Women. And this tale pretty much follows that 2,400-year-old plot, albeit with a lot of snappy modern dialogue and ideas.
The women happen to arrive at the courtyard of Bella, Piero and Giuliano (Sandra Barton, Paul Stout and David Clyne), the villa decorated for some not-exactly specified celebration. The family cautiously agrees to take the sisters in for protection; however, that arrangement is soon jeopardized by the arrival of the angry grooms, all 50 represented by Constantine, Oed and Nikos (Slim Barkowska, Matt Brown and Jeremy Votava). What follows are misunderstandings, tantrums, comedic observations, betrayal, murder and, when all is said and done, even true love.
What’s neat about Mee’s play is that the 47 men and 47 women who aren’t onstage are somehow suggested by the presence of the audience—we are the other grooms and brides implied in this tale.
Naturally, when dealing with symbols, the acting assumes a kind of specialized aspect—it is not natural, per se, and is not really meant to be. Even so, everyone involved fills his or her caricature with as much personality as possible. The set was nice, too, its free-standing gate suggesting entrance to a world not quite ours and yet somehow exactly like it. Director Margot Melcon has assembled a highly enjoyable show.