The time for flowers, candy hearts, candlelit dinners and a mischievous cupid is once again upon us. To celebrate the month of love, the Old Port Playhouse is presenting a two-play homage dubbed “A Crazy Lil’ Thing Called Love.”

Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in February, the playhouse is shaking things up, opening with “The Valentine Fairy” by Ernest Thompson, who is perhaps best know to theatergoers for his play “On Golden Pond.”

The one-act play, which clocks in at just over half an hour, is a Valentine’s Day snapshot of the life of Ingrid. Her latest boyfriend just broke up with her, leaving her to wallow in misery with a box of chocolates. It’s the last straw in a string of bad relationships, and she’s fed up and disillusioned with love.

Cue the Valentine Fairy, who brings Ingrid on a walk down memory lane via a slide-projector show of her life.

The second part of the performance is in the hands of the audience. When patrons pick up their tickets, they are presented a ballot and asked to choose which play they would like the “Reader’s Theatre” to perform; “Crazy Lil’ Thing Called Love,” “Cafe of Love” or “Lovers and Liars.” Whichever receives the most votes is staged after intermission.

As with the Old Port Playhouse regular performances, the “Reader’s Theatre” still features professional thespians, performing fully staged productions. But because the plays are done more on the fly, the actors perform with scripts in hand. Audiences will be pleasantly surprised at the results.

The Valentine-inspired event kicked off Friday with the pre-planned performance of “The Valentine Fairy,” starring Leslie Trentalange as Ingrid and Todd Lyman as Rudyard, the Valentine Fairy. Lyman was a sight to see in full fairy attire, including red party glasses, a red satin robe, white-lace petticoat, red-striped tights and velvety red slippers.

Trentalange was caustically witty as Ingrid, spewing crass commentary and sexual innuendos that are definitely geared for adults. The audience laughed as she compared receiving a box of chocolates to giving Betty Ford a bottle of Jack Daniels and quipped that Rudyard could get arrested for impersonating Elton John.

Following a brief set change at intermission, Trentalange returned to the stage with theater co-founder Michael Tobin to perform the “Reader’s Theatre” portion of the show. Perhaps it was the power of suggestion given the title for the evening, but Friday’s audience chose “Crazy Lil’ Thing Called Love” as the second show.

The play, set in a cafe, tells the tale of two former schoolmates who reunite after 20 years. Can their secret love triumph over the rather unusual, and entertaining, complications in their lives?

Friday’s performance was charming, with Trentalange taking on the role of Meredith O’Connor and Tobin stepping into the role of Danny Fleming. Both delivered strong, passionate performances that easily outshined the scripts they were holding.

It was a treat to see Trentalange performing in back-to-back plays. The two characters she portrayed were polar opposites, beautifully showcasing her acting versatility.

The two-play production is full of spontaneity and pleasant surprises that offers something a little different from what most patrons here are accustomed to.

April Boyle is a freelance writer from Casco. She can be contacted at:

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