Publisher: Elizabeth Hurd / Managing Director: Adrienne Proctor / Editor: Jillian Pritchard Ball

Carpenter Square Presents “The Mystery of Love and Sex” Tragically

Kylan L. Durant and Hannah Youngblood as Jonny and Charlotte serving a dorm room dinner. Photo Courtesy of Carpenter Square Theatre

 “The Mystery of Love and Sex” by Bathsheba Doran is a sensitive and sometimes humorous exploration of adolescent discovery, sexual identity, and coming to terms with unresolved issues.  It’s certain that a large part of what makes life and all the ensuing problems bearable is humor.  Without joy there is no life.  Rhonda Clark directs a cast of four main characters and one delightful cameo with a great deal of sensitivity, but the humor in the script is lacking from this production.

The story is about two couples; the young college students who are unlikely best friends are Charlotte and Jonny.  Charlotte is the daughter of a New York Jewish detective fiction writer, Howard and his Southern Belle but free-spirited wife Lucinda.  Jonny is black, the son of a religious single mother who is very ill.  These two best friends are clearly bound together, and Charlotte’s parents believe they may marry one day.  They are more alike than different, despite their contrasting upbringing.  They are also facing the discovery of their sexuality and sexual identity, a journey familiar to everyone.  For some it is smooth, for others it can be a problem when faced with living a façade for social acceptance.

In the first act, Howard and Lucinda are visiting Charlotte and Jonny in the dorm room for a very ‘Bohemian’ dinner.  The two young people may be falling in love, but by the second act five years later, Charlotte and Jonny have had a falling out and Charlotte’s parents are divorced.  While the marriage was rocky, Howard and Lucinda are amicably planning Charlotte’s wedding, as well as reconciliation with Jonny.

From left, Hannah Youngblood as Charlotte, Kylan L. Durant as Jonny, Amy Reed Tucker as Lucinda and Ed Spinelli preparing for dinner. Photo Courtesy of Carpenter Square Theatre

Hannah Youngblood plays Charlotte, a liberal free spirit with soulful angst.  Kylan L. Durant is Jonny, a more traditional fellow, fearing sliding from the path of strict religious behavior.  Ed Spinelli is Howard, Charlotte’s doting father and Amy Reed Tucker is Lucinda, just waiting to rebel against her proper Southern upbringing.  Tom Cowley is Howard’s father making a brief but welcome and bright appearance as Charlotte’s grandfather, the surprisingly understanding Rabbi.

Spinelli is quite believable as Howard as is Tucker with Lucinda.  Durant plays Jonny with the right amount of stiffness bordering on the stuffed shirt.  Youngblood seems a trifle uncomfortable as Charlotte.   Tom Cowley is very good in his cameo as Howard’s father.   While all the performers have excellent sensitivity and a true understanding of the complicated issues they face, their despair is overpowering. 

Charlotte (center) played by Hannah Youngblood is flanked by her parents Amy Reed Tucker as Lucinda and Ed Spinelli as Howard as they discuss Charlotte’s relationship with Jonny. Photo Courtesy of Carpenter Square Theatre

We have made significant inroads into the 21st century toward a more enlightened view and acceptance toward anyone living their true life. An “alternate lifestyle” is not the “tragedy” it was considered just 50 years ago, even though it still presents a great many obstacles and difficulties to overcome.   Clark’s cast of five skilled actors are concentrating on the heartaches and forgetting about truth and joy of life. Perhaps during the run of “The Mystery of Love and Sex,” this Carpenter Square troupe will discover the humor and present it with the same integrity as the heartbreaks they express so well.

“The Mystery of Love and Sex” plays at Carpenter Square located at 800 West Main in downtown Oklahoma City through February 1, 2020.  For information and tickets call 405-232-6500 or visit Carpenter Square Theatre on line at www.carpentersquare.com.

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