nytheatre.com review by Richard Lovejoy
August 18, 2012
My jaw is pretty much permanently dropped onto the floor of the Connelly Theatre now. I don't know what I expected—so far at this FringeNYC Festival, I've been fortunate to see nothing but quality work. Reading the LOFT Ensemble's somewhat dry description for LoveSick, and noticing the play's length in the FringeNYC guide, I began to wonder if maybe my string of luck was about to run out. Perusing the program, I saw that writer Larissa Wise also directed and was top billed. Upon learning this information I determined that I was very likely going to be in for something of a mess.
I cannot be more happy to report that I have never in my life been so very wrong. LoveSick is, in fact, one of the tightest shows I've ever seen. It is a beautiful, breathtaking production—the type of production that reminds you why theatre is done at all. There is one moment in the play that is so magical, so entrancing, that I suspect I will never forget it.
The story is deceptively simple in premise and constantly surprising in execution. I don't want to give anything away at all, so I'm going to speak somewhat vaguely. It is a story of young, unexpected love. The play is in verse, and it is stylized. The first act is very funny—and then the second act is transformative. The humor from the first act is still present, but you begin to see different emotional textures emerging. By the brilliant—no, genius—final moments of the play I didn't know whether to laugh or weep.
Larissa Wise's direction is as close to flawless as you can get. The same can be said of her costume design, her gorgeous set design, her script (in verse, no less!), and her performance. She is a phenomenal talent. She gets amazing and consistently excellent work out of her entire ensemble. Adam Chambers is one of the most magnetic actors I've ever seen. He and Wise have a palpable chemistry together. Noah Benjamin, Matt McCroskey, Marissa Galloway, and Jessica Botello are riveting as the supporting ensemble. Joy Howard and Jason Ryan Lovett both shine as the villains of the piece. Sean Durrie and Vanessa Vaughn both give powerhouse performances as Sophie's father and Benjamin's mother respectively.
What goes on onstage in LoveSick is simply magical. Had it had another performance immediately following the one I saw, I would have watched it. There is so much texture to the piece that I suspect that multiple viewings are not only warranted, but totally desirable. The two hour, twenty minute length flies by—there wasn't a single moment where I wasn't entirely rapt but what was happening onstage.
Here's the bottom line: LoveSick is hilarious, beautiful, sad, joyous, moving, and brilliant. It is brimming with talent from top to bottom. I strongly, STRONGLY encourage people to see this show. I insist even. Not even politely. Bring your friends, bring your friend's friends. Heck, bring your enemies.