A Celebration of All Things Cultural, Artistic, and Entertaining in Madison
Feb 15, 2011
Valentine’s Day can easily become a cliché. Talk of love can quickly sound one-dimensional, a facsimile of the kind promoted in fairy tales, romantic comedies and greeting cards.
Thankfully, love is more complex and multidimensional than that. And, also thankfully, Forward Theater Company devoted its first monologue festival to exploring love in its myriad forms.
Called The Love That Changed My Life, the festival featured fifteen monologues by playwrights from Madison and beyond. Actors took the stage in Overture Center’s Promenade Hall February 11 and 12 and offered a comforting, stirring and surprising patchwork quilt of love stories.
There were monologues on individuals’ love for yoga, the Beatles, hot dogs—and, by connection, for one’s body, a cool boy and a family.
Some were sad, such as Jenny’s Cough, in which a small-town woman struggles to understand that her husband has three months to live, and An Evening with Jon Jones about a performer and his late lover. The latter was by David Schanker, whose Kiritsis was part of Forward’s first season. He died last year and this festival was dedicated to him.
Others works were triumphant, such as woman learning to love her breasts; the audience followed her from a scared eleven-year-old at a bra fitting to a mother able to nourish her child.
And still others were funny, such as The Nuts That Changed My Life by Kimberly Yarnall of Madison. Actor Michael Herold was outstanding—funny, believable and charming—as an East Coast man who falls for a woman who’s as crazy about snack nuts as he is.
But personal explorations of love were part of the festival, too. In an early work, My Brother’s Love, a teenage boy declared he would have plenty of sex in the future but skip the love stuff. And in the final monologue, Certainty by Madisonian Joseph Rice, a man was skeptical about love. He had a list of rules about how fast he’d move in a relationship, but broke them all—not without uncertainty but with courage.
The first act brought Troubles with Love, a monologue by Christopher Durang (Forward presented his Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them last season). In this piece a hilarious thirty-something woman complained about having to date “hobbits.” In the second act, the audience met a man whose ex-girlfriend called him a hobbit. As the we made the connection in this pair of works by Durang, the man informed us he wanted her back. And I think we all hoped they would reunite.
I like realistic portrayals of love, but I’m still a sucker for a happy ending.
For more information on Forward Theater, visit forwardtheater.com.
Photos by Nick Berard and courtesy of Forward Theater Company.