LOVE is a four-letter word!

Inola M. McGuire reviews

The 13th Street Repertory Theatre

The performance that I saw is “Love is Dead” written and directed by Seanie Sugrue, starring Patrick Brian Scherrer, John Warren, Mary Tierney, Ashton Foster, Olivia Howell, Dina Massery, Chris Gentile, Brian Patrick Murphy, Myles O’Connor and Hannah Jane McMurray.

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Act I: The audience sees Betsy when she enters her living room and she gets into her character.  She calls out to her husband, Walter, who is a disabled Vietnam veteran because she needs his help.  Poor Walter twists his broken-down body out of the bedroom to the living room to listen to his wife’s nagging.  The couple entertains the audience with their berating of each other before Walter leaves the room.  The couple’s son, Trevor visits his parents at their home.  Trevor announces to his mother that he was raped by two women.  Betsy finds it very hard to believe!  She reveals to her son how she feels sorry for Ginger, her son’s wife.  She summons her husband to hear all of the details of their son’s allegation of rape.  Walter and Betsy sit on a sofa and they laugh at their son’s predicament to their hearts content!  Betsy and Walter refuse to be sympathetic to Trevor’s mess.  He’s on his own, and they leave him in their home by himself.

Trevor appears to be upset with his parents.  He writes on a notepad a very unflattering note to his parents.  He states in his note that he wants them individually to “f” themselves.  He gets himself all settled in on the sofa to commit suicide with a gun to his head.  Trevor hears the knocking at the door.  Ginger enters and she begins her bombardment of insults and truths towards her husband.  Trevor tries to talk himself out of everything she says to him.  Ginger rubs it in to Trevor when she announces her plans.  Perhaps Ginger was never told that she must keep certain things to herself, for loose lips sink ships.  Ginger tells Trevor of her intentions to leave him.  Ginger’s truth becomes her death sentence with two gunshots to her body courtesy of Trevor.  After Trevor’s mortal sin, he resumes his intention.  His cell phone rings and he grants himself a reprieve before he leaves his parents’ home to visit Maggie.  Trevor’s parents return to their home to see the dead body of their daughter-in-law on their living room floor.  Betsy and Walter argue over who should call 9-1-1.  Walter shoots his wife and he puts the gun to his head and he pulls the trigger.  Both father and son kill their wives in the same room. Oh, how ironic?

Act II: The audience sees Cindy in her living room and Kenneth joins her. .They enjoy a drink from a bottle of wine.  Within a few minutes, the love birds disappear to the bedroom.  Before the audience can relax, Kenneth comes back to the living room like a bat out of hell from his hit and run sexual encounter with Cindy.  Cindy enters her living room like a basket case with tears in her eyes.  The audience surmises the frustration in her demeanor.  Two-face Nancy comes in and she tries to comfort Cindy; and Cindy tells her about her love life.  In comes Eugene into the living room from job!  He demonstrates his narrow mindedness, and he demands Cindy’s attention to cater to his every needs.  Being greeted at the door by Cindy is an idea in Eugene’s mind; and she doesn’t want to be a part of his sexist attitude.  Cindy orders Nancy to leave their home, and she complies with her friend’s request.  Eugene brings home the bacon and he wants her to cook it for him; but Cindy is more out of their relationship than he wants her too.  She wants to leave him for Kenneth.  Eugene spews his dislikes for Nancy to Cindy as a sham to conceal their relationship.  Cindy and Eugene continue to remind each other of their discontent between them, and she makes an attempt to leave the living room.  Getting out is not in the cards for her, for Eugene turns the table on her.  He strangles her with his own hands on the floor in the living room!

Eugene moves Cindy’s body from the living room to the bedroom.  He hides her body!  Nancy comes back to the living room, and Eugene informs her of Cindy’s strangulation.  They enjoy the demise of Cindy, but their quick celebration comes to an abrupt end.  Kenneth comes back to the apartment with flowers for Cindy.  He speaks with Nancy and she lies to him about Cindy’s well being.  She sends him on a wild goose chase to the bedroom to meet his death.  Eugene waits for Kenneth in the bedroom in order to murder him.  Later, Eugene comes out all bloody to the living room with an object in his hand, his weapon of choice.  Eugene wants Nancy to take the wrap for his crimes.  He forces her to take a few pills to kill herself.  Eugene thinks he gets away with two murders, and he leaves his apartment.

Act III: Trevor visits Maggie at her home that is less than perfect in terms of furnishings.  She cares for a fish by the name of Franky, and she speaks to it in the fishbowl.  Maggie’s complex relationship with the men in her life turns out to be fatal for some of them.  The audience sees Maggie at her different levels of consciousness.  Maggie’s childhood and her innocence were stolen from her.  Her dissatisfaction with men and their abusive ways towards her come to a culmination in the performance.  Trevor meets a disastrous end at the hands of Maggie in her home, for she puts him out of his miserable life with a bullet.  Maggie and her sister Nancy were abused by their own father.  His manipulation of his daughters’ trust create monsters in them, and he tries to justify his inappropriate behavior to Maggie with a dead body on the floor next to them.  The loss of an eye was not enough for him to stay away from his daughter.  Maggie ends his wretched life with two gunshots to his body.

Eugene visits Maggie and he sees the two dead bodies on the floor in her home.  He tries to make sense of the whole ordeal from Maggie’s point of view, and he gets the 4-1-1 from her.  Eugene is sure of himself, and he tries to pull a fast one on Maggie.  He tries to outsmart her, but Maggie knows how to hold her own.  Throughout the ups and downs in her life at the hands of men, she has learned a few tricks of her own.  The audience sees Eugene as he demonstrates his masculinity, and he tries to intimidate Maggie with a gun.  He lets her know who the boss is at that moment through intimidation, and she goes along with his moment of delusion.  Maggie carries another gun on her person, and Eugene’s ignorant to this fact until it is too late for him.  In Eugene’s case, another one bites the dust!  Now, Maggie has three dead bodies on her hand!  There is a serial killer in the making!

Nancy survives a drug overdose at the hands of Eugene in his apartment, and she flees to her sister’s home when she regains consciousness.  Nancy enters Maggie’s home, and she sees the dead bodies on the floor.  The sisters explain their own ordeals with each other.  Nancy lies on the floor next to Eugene’s body; and she puts her head on his stomach.  The audience takes in everything!  The sisters have to come to terms with the disposal of the bodies one way or the other.

The writer gets his message across to the audience in more ways than one.  He allows the audience to witness verbal and physical abuse among the characters in the play.  The television show Investigation Discovery promotes the solving of crimes; but this play, “Love Is Dead” has more to offer the theatre-goers community.  Social ills have created monsters in our society for a very long time, and the playwright highlights the ramification of such dubious behavior.

The reviewer’s point of view:  Love Is Dead is a must-see performance for the general public to see.  Seeing this play has the power to transform the thinking of the average person, for the creation of two-legged monsters in our society is a real problem for America.  Childhood abuse and other abuses have been ignored for too long.  Society needs a wake-up call!

Photos Courtesy of Locked in the Attic Productions.