Thursday September 21st 2017

” A Love Affair”

Recommended *** Often, when I attend one of the openings at Oil Lamp, that quaint little “storefront” in downtown Glenview, I think back to my days at Shady Lane Farmhouse in Marengo. The reason for those flashbacks are the type of plays that Keith and his staff enjoy doing- kind of “hokey”, but funny and in many ways poignant. For those of you familiar with this small venue, it is  perfect for little romantic comedies, which is why Jerry Mayer’s “A love Affair” works! What is interesting about this story is that it takes place over  the years from 1991, then back to  1953  and in perfect “yo-yo” form, back to 1991 again. The places that we are taken are Malibu, St. Louis, Encino and back to Malibu, but where they are is not obvious as there is one set, which always remains the same, so if you are trying to follow the story by geographic and locations, forget about it!

“A Love Affair” is a love story about a couple and the ups and downs in their lives. Can love survive the changes that time brings into our lives? Can we overcome the challenges that life tosses our way? For Jimmy and Alice, who we get to meet at the start of the play as people who are in their  fifties ( or close to it), we see a couple who are getting ready to move from their home of many years to a much smaller condo. They have had some quality years but due to a fraudulent investment company, took a huge loss and were forced to sell their home to stay afloat. From the opening scene it is hard to imagine these two as “the great romance”, but Beth Goldberg and Michael Lomenick playing these roles, during the two hours (with an intermission) do eventually draw us into their souls as a perfect unit.

When they go back in time, the characters are portrayed by Katie Mancuso and Reed Willard, who appear to have more chemistry, but maybe that is because they are younger. We watch their love affair evolve as they grow and mature. There is mention of the family they have, but very little and we never see a child or grandchild during the entire story. I found this to make the great romance a bit weaker ,as being a parent and grandparent, I know how the family unit can become stronger because of its being. Understanding that this is a play about the relationship between this couple, then and now, it was interesting to see the “changing of the guard” when they came face to face with their “selves” and the elder model took over for the younger. Their paths did cross again (several times) and I am sure that some of those in the full house were not sure of what was happening, but it was an interesting concept and Gerth, who understands this stage better than anyone, did what he could to keep the action smooth.

There is one more performer in the show, who serves as the “ensemble”. Traci Cidlik portrays six roles and manages to keep them different from each other. Quite a trick for any performer, and she does so with ease. There are a great number of innuendo and sexual discussions, each drawing great laughter from the audience (who were enjoying wine). The topic is love, and sex does enter into it. As they age,both Alice and Jimmy, have some physical problems that come into their lives. This is natural and well explained, yet they are able to joke about this in a way that fits the characters that Mayer has created.

While this is not the “great comedy” or probably not “the great American Love Story”, “A Love Affair” is an entertaining piece of theater that is worth the trip to Glenview to see. The Oil Lamp is located at 1723 West Glenview Road (just West of Waukegan Road) with free parking, and easy to get to. In fact, it is just minutes west of Old Orchard Shopping Center. It is  a 50 seat theater with great sight lines and  is a BYOB facility, meaning you can bring a bottle of wine and they will uncork it and supply glasses. They also have snacks out (nuts and M & M’s) and some great cookies- and here is the kicker- tickets are only $35.

“A Love Affair” will continue thru October 1st with performances as follows:

Thursdays  8 p.m.

Fridays  8 p.m.

Saturdays  8 p.m.

Sundays  3 p.m.

To order your seat, call 847-834-0738 or visit http://www,oillamptheater.org

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “A Love Affair”.

 

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