Two friends since childhood, Charlotte and Jonny (played by Amandine Thomas and Quincy Vicks), discover a great deal about themselves and their primal (as well as carnal) needs in Bathsheba Doran’s variegated play, “The Mystery of Love & Sex,” presented by Iron Crow Theatre in Baltimore. This story has a motley of themes throughout, but centers on, as director Natka Bianchini puts it, “living openly and authentically as our true selves.”
…Thomas and Vicks displayed some interesting chemistry that kept the performance fluid and organic…
The play begins with the main characters Charlotte and Jonny in their early college days, living together and testing the bounds of their friendship through confessions of intimate
From the opening act, Thomas and Vicks displayed some interesting chemistry that kept the performance fluid and organic enough to stay engaged for the nearly three hours it takes to resolve this story. Charlotte’s parents Lucinda and Howard (played by Marianna Angelella and Jonas David Grey) offer contrasting voices of reason about the choices their daughter and Jonny make. But like most of us, they don’t really listen to their parents and speed off to pilot their own crashes. The dynamics between these four characters opens some interesting juxtapositions. For example, Charlotte is more assertive and tends to blurt out thoughts frequently, whereas Jonny keeps a much calmer, bohemian demeanor. With Charlotte’s parents, it’s Howard that is assertive and Lucinda that is the cool cucumber. Nevertheless, all four harbor some secrets and their internal issues manifest in the form of deconstructive drama that makes for constructive theatre.
This play tries not to trivialize the revelations of the characters, and the director ensures this by using the best qualities of the actors. Amandine Thomas’s performance as the over-inquisitive train wreck, Charlotte, manages to gradually package and highlight the character’s sensitivity. Her portrayal of a young woman eager to find and proclaim her absolute identity while simultaneously being enveloped in real love truly underscores the evolution of her character.
Quincy Vicks is also fantastic playing the equally confused Jonny. I found his mannerisms very natural and dynamic in an innocuous way. Marianna Angelella’s portrayal of Charlotte’s mother was skillful and uncongealed. When she said the word “bohemian,” her motions were in rhythm. Jonas David Grey as Charlotte’s father oscillated from uptight to loose like waves crashing on the shore. Howard is an over-anxious, neurotic mystery writer, and Grey plays this character shifting from hot to cold, displaying calm and then erupting is manic outbursts. All of the actors were proficient in projecting the best and worst qualities of their characters and deserve a nod of praise for it.
As the title of the play insinuates, there is a great mystery in love and sex. And certainly this performance manages to showcase the various components of the mystery. I appreciate the progression of the characters and where they each ended up by the end of the story. But credit for the continuity and flux of this production goes beyond the playwright, actors and director. The humble stage did the job of highlighting the meager setting for a young couple entering the “real world,” as well as the pronounced tree at the edge of the stage, symbolizing the past always along the fringes of the present, and always just beyond the corner of our eyes. Set designer Megan Suder and lighting by Brandi Martin brought the ambience to life with the subtle details. The song selections and sound were just right for this setting, so much credit to Devyn Deguzman. Stage manager Ellen Mitchell and assistant Katie O’Donnell made sure transitions were seamless. There’s partial nudity and explicit language in this performance, so credit to the intimacy consultant Chelsea Pace for lessening any awkwardness.
I found this play to be rather interesting at the beginning, but as the story unfolded some elements were a little too convenient and resolves differently than what one might expect. Ironically, this really isn’t such an odd play, but perhaps relatable and, dare I say, even contemporary. The performance didn’t fail to have a show-stopper, as there was plenty of drama to fill every gap in this story, but honestly the element of “love” is more front and center than “sex” is. In fact, I found the title of the play draws one with one idea of what the story is about, but you will surely leave with a different perspective of it all together.
Running time: 2 hours, 50 minutes with one intermission.