"Changes of Heart" (Remy Bumppo Theatre): Potential But I Don't Love it!

"Changes of Heart" (Remy Bumppo Theatre): Potential But I Don't Love it!

Love is kooky!  Why do we love certain people?  How can love consume us and then delude us?  When do we know that this love is the real, everlasting kind?  In second grade, I came up with a theory to test the depths of the connection.  Up against Kardashian nonsense and Demi heartache, my school girl supposition works as well as any other predictor.  At 8, I believed if I still felt the same way after the boy got a haircut, the love was true.

Remy Bumppo presents CHANGES OF HEART.  In this love story, the prince has kidnapped not rescued his beloved.  The prince loves Silvia.  Silvia loves both Harlequin and another guy.  The other guy is actually the prince in disguise. Harlequin loves Silvia and Flaminia.  Flaminia loves Harlequin.  Lisette loves the prince.  And Trivelin loves Flaminia.  Wow!  With all this amour, the odds are good that love will actualize on stage. CHANGES OF HEART has potential but I don’t love it.

New Artistic Director Timothy Douglas directs his second show in the Remy Bumppo 2011/2012 season.  This Marivaux comedy of mistaken identities and multiple love exchanges is ripe for a zesty, sexy romp.  Instead, Douglas paces it with a deliberate, slow cadence.  Actors are entering and exiting down long imaginary corridors.  Dialogue is delivered with affected pauses.  This is a farce but the absurdity isn’t funny.  Instead, the only character playing a truly humorous angle is Nicolas Gamboa (Harlequin).  Gamboa’s over-the-top performance would be funny in a real romantic-comedy.  But when everybody else is playing it so seriously straight, his buffoonery feels awkward.

One of my favorite things about this show is Jake Szczepaniak (ensemble).  Without a word, Szczepaniak transitions scenes by lip-syncing groovy sixties tunes.  He is hilarious.  Cueing up the third act, Linda Gillum (Flaminia) joins him for some playful dancing.  It’s fun!  Gillum prances us into a more solid third act.  Gamboa takes off his mask and dims it down.  I can see why the ladies love him.  He’s charming when he’s not trying to be a one-man show.  Alana Arenas (Silvia) and Steve Wojtas (The Prince) endear with a tender-hearted scene.  A vulnerable Wojtas pledges his love. It’s a bittersweet moment for me!  If I had been able to connect with the characters in the first two acts, I would be more invested in a happily everafter.  I want the onstage loving to woo me too.  But I’m detached.  The bangs are cut too short.

When I think about this show, I keep visualizing Timothy Douglas holding onto a bundle of bright, beautiful balloons.  Some are blown up too much and in danger of premature popping.  Some need a little more gas to reach the right height. Some of the balloons are floating outside the cluster.  They are in jeopardy of getting loose and drifting away.  By checking the gas levels and pulling the strings tighter, Douglas could create a colorful cluster of entertainment to love.

Running Time:  Two hours and forty-five minutes with two intermissions

At Greenhouse Theatre, 2257 N. Lincoln

Written by Marivaux

Translated by Stephen Wadsworth

Directed by Timothy Douglas

Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30pm

Sundays at 2:30pm

Thru January 8th

Buy Tickets at www.remybumppo.org


Production photograph courtesy of Johnny Knight.

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