New love is so juicy good. It’s filled with hope and endless possibilities. But let’s face it, when real life intervenes, sometimes love can be loaded with heartache. It can even make us sick. John Cariani’s new play “Love/Sick” considers the question, “Are we better off coupled or better off alone?” Half Moon Theatre is staging the play in their new 70-seat black box space in Poughkeepsie from November 1 to17. It’s the perfect intimate venue to create the “alternate suburban reality” of “Love/Sick.”
The play is a series of vignettes featuring 20 different characters including a couple of obsessive impulsive people who can’t stop kissing each other in the Super Center, a woman who has spent so much time and energy child rearing that she’s lost herself, and a power couple who forgot to have the baby they said they wanted so badly. It looks at our neurosis and fears as we second guess our hopes and dreams. In this production a coterie of six talented actors will fill all 20 roles.
“Love/Sick” is peppered with humor—the laugh-out-loud, tears-streaming-down-your-face kind of funny—that comes through in the language, contradictions within the characters, and bold, unexpected physical manifestations of what people do in moments of extreme love or pain. “John’s writing style has a naturalism to it, but it also has a sense of whimsy and almost magical realism,” says director, Christopher Edwards. “Sometimes the inappropriate things people say in these moments are hilarious.” Edwards is well-suited for the director job. He’s the associate artistic director of the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival and has known Cariani for over 12 years. This is the first time they will work together professionally; a happy kismet of talent and friendship.
Half Moon Theatre produced Cariani’s wildly successful first play, “Almost, Maine,” in 2010. (It’s been produced by nearly 2,000 theatres nationwide.) Hudson Valley audiences raved and begged for more. Thus began a collaborative relationship that’s so important to new play development. Half Moon did a reading of his second play, “Last Gas,” and is thrilled to be mounting one of the first full productions of “Love/Sick.” Cariani says there’s a false impression that after a play premieres it’s finished. Having the opportunity to see a production, revise the script, then produce the play again is critical to the process of creating work he loves and is willing to publish. He speaks glowingly about this experience with Half Moon. “Half Moon is so cool because it’s a bunch of people who are professionals who have done some really cool stuff, but maybe stepped away to do the family thing—still with the passion of the 20 year olds.”
The feeling is mutual. Kristy Grimes, Half Moon’s managing director, says “Love/Sick” is exactly the kind of work they are eager to produce. “We hope to provide John and Chris with a supportive environment to discover and explore new aspects of the work—while giving our audience the opportunity to see an exciting and beautiful new play before most of the rest of the country!”
Cariani sums it up. “People who are romantics fight so hard to prevent bad things from happening. I think that’s how most of us have learned to live. We’ve learned that when things are good they get worse, when they are bad they get better. ‘Love/Sick’ is an unromantic comedy for the romantic in everybody.”“Love/Sick” will be performed at the Half Moon Theatre Performing Space in Poughkeepsie. Advance ticket purchase recommended. Halfmoontheatre.org; (800) 838-3006.