Thursday February 22nd 2018

“The Mystery of Love & Sex”

sexlogo Another “coming of age” play has hit one of our Chicago area stages. This time, it is Writers Theatre and the play is Bathsheba Doran’s “The Mystery of Love & Sex”. The title alone is ample reason for a theater company to do the show. They are certain to sell tickets just because of the title. This is, however, more than a “teaser” about love and or sex. It is in fact, a strong look at a relationship between a boy and a girl, as well as that of the family that has been the guiding light for both of them. I must advise you that there is full frontal nudity in this production and since it is in the Gillian Theatre (the smaller, Black Box venue) the actors are very close to the audience.

The story takes place in America, mostly in the South, probably in modern times, although it really doesn’t matter. The play is on a stage that is set in the center of two audience sections, so not only do we view the actors, but can see the reactions from other audience members. The running time of this two act play is two-hours-twenty-minutes with a 15 minute intermission. I would have preferred that Doran shave a few spots and made it 90-100 minutes with no break in the action. I believe that it would have made the story work even better.

The story itself is about Charlotte  (adorably portrayed by Hayley Burgess), who has been “best friends’ with her neighbor, Jonny ( deftly handled by Travis Turner). They have been together since the age of nine and are now off in college, and in the opening scene are being visited by Charlotte’s parents, Howard (a powerful character built by Keith Kupferer) and Lucinda (a true Southern Belle played to perfection by Lia Mortensen). In order to get into the story, at this time I need to allow you more knowledge about our characters- Howard is a mystery writer of the Jewish faith and  Lucinda, aka Lulu is a homemaker/mother who has converted from Southern Baptist Christian to a life of Judaism. Their daughter, Charlotte has been raised Jewish. Jonny is African-American. Now you are ready to proceed.

Jonny and Charlotte are the best of friends and now they are trying to figure out if they are “more” than just “best friends”. During their picnic dinner in the opening scene, we learn that Howard is concerned about Jonny’s relationship with his mother, who has been ill. He is also concerned about the extent of the actual relationship between his daughter and Jonny. The two youngstesr are seeking to find out themselves just who they are and what they expect from their lives and each other. As we learn, each has secrets. Secrets that they try to share with each other, and not to give out some of these, I will only say, both are in a mixed state of mind when it comes to their sexuality. sex5

The journey that we take with these characters under the gentle  guidance of Director Marti Lyons is one of each character coming to terms with reality. The reality of their own lives and choices and of those that the others have made and how their lives will be affected. What exactly are the challenges of loving someone? What are the reasons that relationships can fall apart? When someone is seeking answers to what is “more”, how will they react to the answers that may not be what they anticipated? This is a play full of surpirses and while there are some answers that one sees coming, there are far more that will surprise the very being!

This dynamite cast worked really well together. There was a scene when someone evidently did something that had never been done before, laughter ensued, and all four of these talented performers made it appear as if this was scripted. Being someone who has been in similar situations in my past acting days, I wanted to applaud the four actors on their brilliance in handling the situation. I tend to think that I may have been the only audience member that knew what had taken place. For that I say, Bravo!sex2

On the tech side , with a fairly open stage, the set (Andrew Boyce is somewhat limited by the space, but works to perfection, moving on and off with great ease. Remember, this is a very small stage! The costumes (Samantha C. Jones), lighting (Paul Tobin), Sound (Andrew Hansen) , props (Scott Dickens) and Fight Director (Matt Hawkins) put the finishing touches on making this show work. Again, I do not want to reveal a great deal, but must tell you that there are modern -day secrets that take place in this show. There is love and there is hate. There is adoration and there is failure to communicate! There are relationships that grow and fail but at the end, one will feel the positive vibes that Doran has penned in this script. Enter the theater to be entertained and to open your eyes to reality and you will get  a new look at race, sexual identity and family dynamics and relationships.

“The Mystery of Love & Sex” will continue at Writers Theatre located at 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe thru July 2nd with performances as follows:

sex6Tuesdays  7:30 p.m.

Wednesdays  7:30 p.m.   2 p.m. matinees on 4/26, 5/10, 5/17, 5/31 and 6/21

Thursdays  7:30 p.m.

Fridays  7:30 p.m.

Saturdays  3 p.m.  and 7:30 p.m.

Sundays  2 p.m. and 6 p.m. (except 4/30, 5/14, 5/21. 6/4 and 6/25)


Tickets are priced at $35-$80 and can be ordered by calling the box office at 847-242-6000 or online at www.writerstheatre.orgsex


sex4ASL interpreted  June 16th

Open-captioned  June 23rd

May 21st- Sunday Spotlight after the matinee a one hour discussion (limited seating)

Tuesdays after the performance a 15 minute discussion

Wednesday after the show, a 15 minute talk=back

You can use Metra to get to Writers- check out

Plenty of free parking.

To see what others are saying, visit, go to Review Round-Up and click at “The Mystery of Love Sex”

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