Jeff Smith 12:01 p.m., March 29
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love and Other Modern Dilemmas
They say the poet Robert Browning could have written plays and that novelist George Meredith could have been a poet. The evidence at the Tenth Avenue Theatre shows that writer and poet Raymond Carver could have been a playwright as well. Federico Moramarco adapted three short stories for the stage: "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love," "Put Yourself in My Shoes," and "What's in Alaska?" (the title story being a contemporary take on Plato's Symposium about the nature of love). Spread over three decades, from the early 1970s to early '90s, each one-act begins with two couples and an event that should unite them: smoking a hookah; draining a bottle of gin; eating Christmas pastries. Yet each event fractures relations and suggests eventual severings. Carver's renowned for his minimalist style, and Moramarco's adaptation, plus his linking the three stories, is impressive. On opening night, however, the Latherthanever production had yet to find a theatrical equivalent for Carver's spare prose. The script caught his moments of lucid insight, but the acting had loose stretches, including long scene changes and overexplained motives. The cast in general could pare things down, tighten up, and (the males especially) speak to the back row. Pluses include David Weiner's useful set and Pea Hicks's sounds. Krista Bell shows versatility, and Jacque Wilke, relatively new to San Diego, follows her hilarious performance in the North Coast Rep's Don't Dress for Dinner with a trio of nicely etched women: a giggly hippie, a jaded wife, and a hunched-over matron whose emotional swings could qualify her for a painting of German-American Gothic. Carver died in 1988. Thanks to Moramarco's adaptation, Carver may emerge as a new theatrical voice.
Worth a try.
When: Ongoing until Sunday, February 1, 2009
- Sundays, 7pm
- Thursdays, 7:30pm
- Fridays, 8pm
- Saturdays, 4pm & 8pm