Centerstage Theatre premiered a new romantic comedy: Let There Be Love, by up and coming New York playwright Mrinalini Kamath. Let There Be Love takes place in the here and now, and explores timeless concepts such as romance, deception, fame, and family through a uniquely 2020 lens. A mixed media story with slides of art and emotions changing with each scene. The story unfolds through live performance and quick, TED-Talk-esque presentations. The story asks questions about choices and secrets. Does mathematics and computer science have a place in our decisions about love and compatibility? Are algorithms, finite sequences of well-defined, computer-implementabled factors the best road map instructions for the rocky road to love? Can they solve personal problems. Do they compute? Can they compete with cupid? Questions abounded after the excellent production.
Elite matchmaker Dee Dee (played by Sonia Alexis) opens on the minimalistic set with a soliloquy about love and her personal war with algorithms. We sense problems, but we don’t know how deeply hidden they might be. Algorithms? Most of us can’t even spell them, much less understand their place in the world. Sonia is from Chaguanas, Trinidad and Tobago by way of Bellingham. She was a great choice for the lead character in this production. She seems like a commanding force to be reckoned with, but with vulnerabilities that show us a deeply human side.
Working with Dee Dee in the world of love and aspirations is her son Eric (played by Timothy Duval). He is young and wants to be a man of his own . . . while still living at home? We’ve seen Duval in two other productions at CenterStage. This is the first time we really got to see him featured. He played young and vulnerable really well.
Sylvia (played by Justine Davis) unloads her soul through her laptop as she answers questions about her life in an application to Dee Dee’s matchmaking business. I first saw Justine in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown at CenterStage. She also played vulnerable extremely well both as a child and as an adult. Eric reads her resume and visits her at the art gallery she inherited. They make a date for coffee. As the play progresses we want Sylvia and Eric to match up regardless of any algorithm.
Pratik Shar plays Rajesh, a dating business competitor who does believe in algorithms and love with older women. He likes Dee Dee and works thru Eric to meet her. Will the return of a dead husband put the kibosh on Rajesh? We care less about this paring, but there are signs that could mean they would both benefit from a little tender love and care.
My wife Peg and I differ on a piece of direction. Every once in a while someone walked across the set and a little later would walk back. To me it seemed like it gave a feeling of big city foot traffic. To Peg it was annoying. You could only see the lower legs and they always went at the same tempo.
I mentioned a minimalistic set, but there were several blank canvases reaching across the stage. To designate a scene change, a desk or table and a chair or two would be wheeled on stage in the dark and when the lights came up a slide of art or design would be projected onto the canvases allowing the mind to move from scene to scene. The set designer was Parmida Ziaei.
Parmida is an Iranian architectural, interiors and scenic designer, performer and artist based in Seattle. Recent theatre design credits include Theatre 22’s productions of White and The Revolutionist, Sound Theatre’s productions of Peeling and The Rules of Charity, Macha Theatre Works’ productions of the Flight Before Xmas, Blood Water Paint, Sheathed and Veils, and Ten Auras’ production of Don’t Call it a Riot!. Recent performance credits include Time to Tell at ACTLab. When she is not designing, Parmida performs, choreographs and teaches Persian classical and contemporary dance.
Playwright Mrinalini Kamath’s plays have been performed around the world from the USA to the United Kingdom, Australia and India. She received her M.F.A. in playwriting from the Actors Studio Drama School of the New School University. This play was workshopped in New York and as well as the University of Washington.
The play was directed by Theatre Puget Sound member Alyson Soma. I could easily hear each actor, which is not always true in many local productions. The play could have gone a little quicker, but that will happen naturally. We enjoyed the show, even though the audience was a little shy on attendance. We saw it Sunday afternoon. There were two major strikes against the production: The Super Bowl and detour signs up along Marine View Drive. I didn’t mind missing the first half of the football game, and had no problem with the unwarranted detour. Two teenage granddaughters also made it to the production and enjoyed the presentation as well. We were all glad we came and certainly enjoyed the excellent entertainment.
The play runs through the 23rd – centerstagetheatre.com/EventDetails.aspx?EventID=240