The concept of the “nuclear family” is outdated. Today, families are formed in many ways and composed of a variety of characters. One need only look at hit shows like ABC’s Modern Family or scroll through a Facebook feed to realize the definition of “family” has changed for the better.
The Mystery of Love and Sex, onstage at Theatre at Arts Garage through October 30, explores this idea of familiar evolution and acceptance through humor, honesty, and a bit of nudity. Written by Bathsheba Doran, this contemporary dramedy focuses on four characters (parents Lucinda and Howard, their daughter, Charlotte, and Charlotte’s lifelong best friend, Jonny) as they come to terms with who they and how they relate to one another.
One of the amazing things about Theatre at Arts Garage is, as a company, they never shy away from controversial material. The Mystery of Love and Sex is no exception. Director Genie Croft guides her cast through a sea of touchy topics, demanding depth and realism as they reach for emotional lows and highs. This play is not for everyone, especially young children. But a mature audience will appreciate its handling of dense themes such as attraction, divorce, homosexuality, gender roles, and racism.
Given the sparse cast and the two-hour runtime, there is certainly no place for the actors to hide. Thankfully, all four are gifted in comedy and drama, even when faced with a script that forces them to jump from one extreme to another within a single beat. However, the playwright does do a nice job of varying the scenes, providing different couplings and ensemble work within the group. This results in fully formed characters with rich back stories of their own and histories between one another.
Charlotte (Connie Fernandez) and Jonny (Jovon Jacobs) anchor the drama, as it is their personal developments that thrust the play forward. Fernandez portrays Charlotte with ease, imbuing the character with a natural spunk and vulnerability. Jacobs’ Jonny has more grit. You can tell he’s had to struggle with his identity on an even more visceral level than Charlotte has, so his moments of happiness feel all the more special. Both actors evoke a friendship decades in the making, establishing an intimacy only the closest companions could sustain.
While their roles are not as demanding, the parents are tasked with exploring the subtleties of aging relationships and testing the limits of unconditional love. As best-selling author Howard, Wayne LeGette oscillates between pompousness and sheepishness. He believes in his voice and has a hard time accepting his faults—though he’s able to move past them in the end. As the Southern belle Lucinda, Janice Hamilton is an absolute joy to watch. She delivers most of Act I’s strongest comedic lines, but then flips in Act II to reveal an inner character who has put her family’s needs before her own for far too long.
The Mystery of Love and Sex offers a glimpse into one American family. These characters come together—faults and all—to form a patchwork unit that will stand by one another no matter what. And that’s something to admire.
If you go: The Mystery of Love and Sex, Theatre at Arts Garage, Delray Beach, to October 30, contains mature themes and nudity.
|Clockwise from top left: Wayne LeGette, Janice Hamilton, Jovon Jacobs, and Connie Fernandez in The Mystery of Love and Sex at Theatre at Arts Garage. Photo by Lloyd’s Studio Photography|