THE PUBLIC THEATRE’S newest production, “Love/Sick” overflows with the throes of love. The play is composed of 10 stories of different couples in the midst of struggles.

THE PUBLIC THEATRE’S newest production, “Love/Sick” overflows with the throes of love. The play is composed of 10 stories of different couples in the midst of struggles.

LEWISTON

Relationships are often humorous, especially when we aren’t directly involved. The tricky bit is when what was once delightful becomes painful, especially if we’re directly involved.

The Public Theatre’s newest production, “Love/Sick” overflows with the throes of love. The play is composed of 10 stories of different couples in the midst of struggles. And we benefit from each moment: with laughter and recognition and reflection that offers an understanding beyond the trappings of romance.

Maine playwright John Cariani, who also wrote “Almost, Maine,” has again created multiple vignettes to expose the many facets of being human. Interestingly, these are not average couples in usual situations. Yet, they are believable humans in almost average situations. So the audience is given permission and reason to laugh. Meanwhile, we wonder and are surprised at the ways the scenes reflect a glimmer of some aspect of romance we have all seen, felt or even run from.

Cariani’s brilliant dialogue snaps us into thinking about what we’ve said or done to those we love. His unique situations, often with just a twist of important difference, tug us to see ourselves in each character and feel compassion and sorrow midst our laughter. This playwright understands what’s universal in human nature. In Love/Sick he pours it across the stage again and again so we might enjoy our place in the procession of folks just trying to find love.

Scenes explore: love at first sight, getting caught in the middle of a breakup, the complications of raising a family or not having children, being bored or mismatched, being alone and seeking love. And those are just some of the conflicts.

Meanwhile, the action takes place on an almost bare stage with set pieces or props before a doll house back drop that cleverly lights up the scenes from room to room. Set Designer, Dan Bilodeau and Lighting Designer, Bart Garvey created a perfect complement to each scene by bringing “just enough” to the moment.

We delight in some pieces Cariani wove throughout. Set doors appear often, reminding us of the constant flow of people and situations in and out of our lives. Puns abound. Even references to the local combination grocery/department store, the SUPERCENTER made us smile at the humor of our modern day “general store.”

Four actors – in fine form – make the parts come alive as a whole. They master multiple character changes, seemingly coming as naturally as turning around. Heather Dilly, William Peden, Sarah Corey and Torsten Hillhouse create 20 characters, each one unique – in more ways than appear at first. I’m sure you will have many favorite characters and favorite moments. And I’m sure yours and mine will each reflect the lives we have lived and the lessons we’ve gained or are still learning about life and love.

Each scene is connected by an interlude while set pieces are changed, and the music chosen highlights the romantic side of love. Then the lights come up on couples who prick our sense of what’s normal with actions and dialogue that’s intimate, universal and unique. The topics aren’t usual. The twists are not all upbeat. Yet each scene is laced with reality.

All of these professionals deserve high praise. Comedy is challenging and they brought us real laughter, again and again. Difficult relationships are tough, and they breathed reality into characters quickly and honestly, so we cared.

One of the characters gets to say, “I think we always dream bigger than it could be.” A fine truth about life, and especially about romance.

Perhaps Love/Sick is letting us look at the reality of love in a way that’s possible. It’s loaded with the magic of humor, conjured by the skill of a fine writer, brought to life by multitalented actors and crew, and then masterfully appears with the gentle tap of Director Christopher Schario’s hat.

MARYLI TIEMANN is a Times Record correspondent.

‘Love/Sick’

Oct. 24-27; Thursday and Friday 7:30 p.m., Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m., with an added matinee on Oct. 26 at 2 p.m.

Adults $20, group rate (10+) $16. For tickets call The Public Theatre Box Office at 782.3200 or visit www.thepublictheatre.org Theater is located at 31 Maple St. in Lewiston.


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