By Craig "muMs" Grant; Directed by Jill DeArmon
Part of the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival
Off Off Broadway, New Play
Runs through 8.23.14
The Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal Street
by Jan Rosenberg on 8.12.14
BOTTOM LINE: A transcendental exploration of that fickle mistress: Love.
Loveness: I will only love you once takes a painfully honest look at self love, self repair, and ultimately, self destruction. Playwright and Poet Craig “muMs” Grant’s tender play begs the question: is love the symptom or the cure? It might be the faulty match that burns the apartment down.
Isabelle (Meridith Nicholaev) is a visual artist who’s licking her wounds after a nasty breakup. She puts her wacky, grounding therapist (Kelley Rae O’Donnell) on a dangerously high pedestal as she tries to open herself to be loved a second time.
Carlyle (Talym Jinn Kim), an artist come high school science teacher, has also recently broken up with an old girlfriend: Addiction. When he’s not teaching, he goes to visit the Bartender (Marco Greco), treating the bar like his confessional.
As these ill-fated lovers go from one date to the next, we experience their desperation and fear of being without an Other. Isabelle, earthy and at times condescending, triggers Carlyle’s insecurities surrounding his art. And while Carly is sweet, he’s also codependent and smothering. Yet the two of them try to make Love resurface, even when it becomes clear that they’re mistaking poison for medicine.
muMs is a colossal poet. His poetry seeps into his dialogue. Right away, I felt myself slip into a meditative state, transported by the fluidity of his language. The poetry is also present in the actors’ movements and subtle emotive gestures. This is a tribute to Jill DeArmon’s lovely direction and an emotionally resonant cast. I was particularly moved by Kim and Nicholaev’s vulnerable performances.
(Loveness: I will only love you once plays at the Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal Street, through August 23, 2014. Remaining performances are Sunday 8/17 at 7:45PM; Wednesday 8/20 at 7:15PM, at 1:30PM; Friday 8/22 at 4:45PM; and Saturday 8/23 at 7:00PM. Tickets are $18 and are available at fringenyc.org.)