Total Faith in Cosmic Love
nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
March 16, 2006
John DeVore's new play Total Faith in Cosmic Love is an interesting meditation on a romance gone sour. About 90% of it (maybe more, I didn't count lines) is delivered by Ashley, a young woman who has just extricated herself from a troubling relationship with a guy named Andy. He was her boss at first, and they found themselves attracted to one another and started making out at the office and at parties. Then, when both are fired from their jobs (not because of the romance, but for an unrelated reason), their affair becomes serious. They move in together, and Andy tells her, "I've got your back. Have you got mine?"
But, as such things often will, the spark fizzles out and dies. Closeness erodes, and finally one day Ashley logs in to Andy's email and finds out—probably not as much to her surpise as she'd like us to believe—that there's another woman. Meltdown, recriminations, and efforts to move on follow in the second half of the play as Ashley recoils from the betrayal.
For me, the particularly singular thing about Total Faith in Cosmic Love is that, even though Ashley is clearly the star of this show, the protagonist of the play seems to be Andy: it's like we're watching his idea of his ex as she exits his life, seeing the ups and the downs through his eyes, or rather his notion of what it looks like through her eyes.
Andy is the one who learns the life lesson here, delivered by a seedy construction guy he meets in a bar who he fears is a low-level gangster:
He says I should come back here, to you, on my knees, and plead, like my life is on the line. That if a man doesn't have faith in love, total faith, then he's less than a shit, a rat, a miserable son of a bitch. Love is the energy that powers the cosmos, which is why the planets and stars and you and me don't fall from the sky and into the blackness of space. I told him no, that was gravity and he told me that's the reason I was drinking alone. No respect for sincere bullshit, which is another way of saying poetry.
You can see here, by the way, that DeVore is a gifted writer: the language in this play is extraordinary and evocative.
The piece is directed with simplicity by RJ Tolan, who places Kate Sundberg as Ashley dead center and conversationally in front of us; it looks like she's confiding in the audience but in fact she's being remembered by Andy (Steven Sanpietro), who hovers near the rear wall of the stage or just behind it.
An intriguing evening, this look at how things fall apart.