Jonny (John Wells III) and Charlotte (Rachael VanWormer)
The playwright Bash Doran has come right out and said in interviews that The Mystery of Love and Sex is a play partly about race, partly family, and mostly sexuality; but that doesn’t mean we should give short shrift to how the play approaches friendship.
Like Charlotte (Rachael VanWormer) and Jonny (John W. Wells III) in Diversionary Theatre’s production, my best friend and I met in grade school. Because my life is, as indeed most lives are, not so interesting as a play like The Mystery of Love and Sex, my best friend and I just remained friends of the ordinary sort, without the love quadrangles and confusing parental issues that vex Charlotte and Jonny. I will say that, in college, I stole my best friend’s girl for a while, which shook the foundations of our friendship pretty hard — but she went her way and I went mine. I mended fences with my best friend, too.
And yet, after surviving that and other tests, our friendship just sort of...died, with the proverbial whimper, at some point over the years that I still can’t exactly pin down. All I know now is that we aren’t really friends anymore, and we hadn’t been for a while before we stopped talking, because even if a friendship isn’t willfully broken, it can wither. In that way, friendships, at least the really good ones, are like, say, your 20s — super awesome, but one day, you just wake up and they’re over. You know they were important, and you’re not exactly sad about the end, but you kind of feel like you nonetheless missed something.
In that regard, I’m glad for Charlotte and Jonny, because I don’t want to see their onstage friendship die. The more “important” thing may be that they discover who they are and how they fit into a crazy world that (surprise surprise) doesn’t exactly embrace them in their natural states, deeply flawed as they, standing in for all of us, may be. Even so, friendships like theirs are rarer than true love.
The Mystery of Love and Sex runs through December 24.