Two Fisted Love
Reviewed by Neal Weaver
Through March 11
I have to admit that I’m confused. I don’t know why playwright David Sessions calls his play Two Fisted Love, and labels it a dark comedy. The comedy is in short supply, and most of the love seems to be in the past tense, or essentially destructive.
Caroline Connors (Serena Scott Thomas) is a rich actress who has made the A-List. But now she has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which has made her bitter and driven her to drink. From her previous marriage, Caroline has a son (Jacob Osborne) she adores, and a daughter, Rachel (Laura Long), who is a recovering alcoholic, apparently traumatized because she was never able to please her mother and win her love. Caroline also has a husband, Kevin (playwright Sessions), who is a conservative Silicon Valley business man. But he’s no longer attracted to her because of the disease and the fact that it has aged her. He seduces the housekeeper, Maria (Paula Lafayette), an illegal immigrant from Guatemala. When Maria turns up pregnant, Kevin deals with the problem by shipping her back to Guatemala, with false promises to join her there.
Kevin’s business partner Andy (Jason Downs) is a cynical and amoral soul whom he turns to for advice about his problems—which seems a bit like asking for relationship counseling from Jack the Ripper, particularly when it emerges that Andy may be guilty of unspeakable crimes.
As Caroline’s disease progresses, she expresses growing contempt for her husband, and once again rejects her daughter’s attempts to help. Spineless Kevin is tormented by guilt and remorse, but that doesn’t prevent him from committing further malefactions to prevent Caroline from finding out about his affair with Maria.
It’s not at all clear what we’re supposed to make of all this. Program notes by director Jules Aaron suggest that the play “links the corporate horrors of Silicon Valley and Wall Street with the decline of the American family.” But though the political issues are talked about, they’re never dramatized. And these characters hardly represent a typical family. The play touches on lots of hot-button issues, from immigration to child molestation, but they seem like window dressing, tacked on to give an impression of political relevance.
But if the play is not entirely successful, the production by director Aaron is more than competent, with fine performances by the entire cast, including Robert Bella as Caroline’s caring but baffled doctor, Lynn Oropeza as her best friend Maggie, and Rene Rivera as Maggie’s eloquently passionate business-man husband. We can feel compassion for the characters, and still be uncertain why they should concern us.
John Iacovelli designed the handsome if sterile set.
Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Boulevard, West Los Angeles. Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. (866) 811-4111 or www.twofistedlove.com. Running time: One hour and 12 minutes with one 15-minute intermission.