Someone in Florida Loves Me
nytheatre.com review by Rachel Grundy
June 13, 2009
Someone in Florida Loves Me is an absorbing study of one woman's self-imposed solitude and how a visit by her childhood friend, with her own issues of loneliness, disrupts this isolation. The theatre has been reconfigured to allow a very small number of seats; only two rows of seating form an L-shape around the set, which is a run-down room in an old house in Brooklyn. Cracks in the wall and a heating vent taped up with a cookie sheet add character and realism to the set (beautifully designed by Adam Brustein). Similarly, John Eckert's lighting is simple in its effect but belies a sophistication of design, drawing the audience into the somewhat claustrophobic atmosphere of Annie's studio. In fact, the attention to detail from all designers—sound, costume, and video—creates a believable world in which the three characters can delve into the complex and story-filled world of the play. I was coveting Nicole's beautiful red-lined coat, if I'm honest.
Writer-director Jane Pickett's language is rich and imaginative, using long monologues and descriptive stories of past events in the characters' lives. The majority of the play focuses on Nicole's visit to her childhood friend, Annie. Nicole, a flight attendant, claims to be stopping in New York on a layover for the first time, but the real motive for her visit remains unclear until the end of the play. Annie and Nicole spend most of the play speaking not to each other, but at each other; reminiscing about their childhood or making mundane conversation, but each carrying their own story through without directly replying to the other person's lines. It's an interesting conceit, and serves to highlight how disconnected they have become; however, I found it a little repetitive after a while, although I understood why their conversations seem to never move forward or properly connect. Similarly, the two women rarely make eye contact, instead looking at the floor or out the window while having their disjointed conversation, and the small size of the performing space limits their movement and adds to the increasingly claustrophobic atmosphere.
Ana Perea, as the brash, funny Nicole, breezes into the apartment and delivers a tour de force monologue after almost two minutes of near-silence at the play's opening. Perea shows great range in her performance, moving from a quintessentially perky flight attendant, wry smile permanently fixed, to a lonely woman seeking a connection to happier times in her past with Annie. Unanswered questions remain even at the end of the play about Nicole, and we wonder why she chose this evening to finally visit Annie. I was captivated by Perea; she has a wonderfully expressive face and is a great counterpoint to Lisa Louttit's introverted, tense Annie.
Louttit's role is somewhat harder to convey, although in some ways it is a less nuanced part; Annie seems to be essentially the same confused, intense character at the end of the play that she was as the beginning. I was also never sure if I truly liked Annie (or if I was supposed to)—I felt a strong connection to Nicole, and her loneliness, but Annie's self-imposed isolation was harder to understand or to sympathize with. However, Louttit admirably delivers a focused performance, portraying a woman with many more thoughts in her head than the lines she speaks. Only when Annie finally meets her bathroom-sharing neighbor, played with a nervous energy by T.M. Bergman, do we see the beginning of a new realization in Annie about herself. The focus of Bergman's performance is in giving Louttit the momentum to begin her self-awakening; this leaves him little room to do much else, but he delivers this ably and I warmed to his strange friendliness.
Someone in Florida Loves Me is a thoughtful and thought-provoking play that does not give you answers but instead provides questions. Who the "someone" in Florida is, I'm still working out.