Four beloved San Diego actors create endearing characters in John Kolvenbach’s delightful comedy, “Love Song.” The whimsical work is made appealing by its poetry and the fact that a darker, chaotic world exists, a world revealed only in the characters’ behavior.
The quirky Beane (Frances Gercke) has isolated himself in a stark apartment that contains all he needs — a cup, a spoon and a change of clothes. Falling in love liberates him, and his appetite for other things increases, things like forks and food and odors. At the same time, Beane’s sudden joie de vivre reignites passion in his workaholic sister Joan (Jessa Watson) and her lackluster, apparently wealthy husband Harry (Daren Scott).
The cause of Beane’s awakening is Molly (Jessica John), whom Beane catches robbing his apartment. John is utterly captivating as this gamin young woman, who is understandably put out that her labors have resulted in such meager loot. Beane offers his wallet, she declines, says “Hands up!” and steals him instead.
A master at character making, Gercke captures Beane’s inner turmoil, hidden under his sleepless inertia. After meeting Molly he becomes manic, yes, but truly alive, perhaps for the first time in a recluse life.
Kolvenbach, who says he never sets out to write comedy, is a master of comic dialogue, allowing his characters to move seamlessly from real human problems into their newfound ability to play. The cause of everyone’s awakening is Molly’s light, metaphorically evoked in Beane’s malfunctioning lamp (fine details provided by properties designer Bonnie L. Durben and lighting designer Ashley Johnstone). The contrast between Beane and Joan’s lifestyles is manifest in Nick Fouch’s fabulous scenic design. Love songs are provided by sound designer Jeremy Siebert and fetching costumes by John. Sean Murray directs, stepping in for previously announced Esther Emery, who reportedly withdrew for personal reasons.
The audience departed the evening performance Jan. 25 laughing and chattering, their mouths spilling such words as “wonderful.” We all need a lift just now, and “Love Song” is the thing. One thinks of countless friends whom the show might lighten. This funny, delicate work contains a profound message about our lives, our things, our loving. Ultimately it’s about healing, joy and compassion.
“Love Song” plays at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 22 at Cygnet Theatre Rolando Stage, 6663 El Cajon Blvd. #N, San Diego. For tickets and information, visit www.cygnettheatre.com or call (619) 337-1525.