Posted on 31 Mar 2010 by Mitch Metz
“Take your clothes off!” the incredibly sexy Allison shouted at a shocked Edward during a heated argument. That get your attention? Well, it got mine.
On a rainy Sunday afternoon in uptown Charlotte, Johanna Jowett and Dave Blamy walked out onto a simplistic yet insightful stage and gave the curious patrons of the Stage Door Theater a moving performance of Victor L. Cahn’s Embraceable Me. This love story is presented in “he said, she said” style, with the actors breaking down the fourth wall of the set and speaking directly to the audience throughout the play.
First of all, let me say the Stage Door Theater is located on College and 5th, and is quite literally, the “stage door” for the actors at the Belk Theater. Open for about a year and a half now, the softly lit, intimate setting was the absolute perfect place to experience this production. Throughout the show, I found myself becoming more and more connected to the actors, as they led us through a “When Harry Met Sally” type of relationship. As Billy Crystal says, “Men and women can’t be friends, the sex thing always gets in the way.” Same is true of Allison and Edward, college pals who somehow go their separate ways, only to discover, life is far better for each of them when they are together.
The play itself has run off-broadway, and now, still in it’s infancy stage, has made it to Charlotte, due to the genius of Douglas Young, Director of Theatrical Programming with Blumenthal PAC. Reviews of the New York production were unkind, but I have a feeling it was more to do with the actors than the content of the show. I found the characters very interesting, and followed along intently as they led us from college life to the real world, through failed relationships, and finally to the complete understanding that their love for one another is strong enough to overcome any problems. They realize that their individual quirks are not only tolerated by the other, but actually embraced! The couple also realizes, as many of us do in our real lives, that when we find that one true love, no one else could ever fill their shoes. Edward finally realizes their individual personalities make them obligated to love the other… to see it through and make it work… that the love will overcome all other differences. Allison and Edward’s story is one of acceptance, compromise, true friendship, and a deep appreciation of each other. A love that neither can deny, no matter what life throws at them.
Allison is a driven woman, a social butterfly, always on the go, looking to be incredibly successful in journalism reporting, while Edward is quite happy to succeed in a more easy going atmosphere, and often pulls back into his own safe zone claiming “too many people“. At times, this “odd couple” reminds us of Felix and Oscar, with Edward having to constantly pick up and organize Allison’s room/work/life.
Johanna and Dave have put in hours and hours of time together, and the chemistry on stage shows just that. There is a LOT of dialogue during their 90 minute marathon, neither of them ever getting a chance to take a breather. The style of breaking away from a conversation to tell the audience what they’re really thinking is a very risky proposition. Fortunately, these two actors seem to pull it off flawlessly. I was very comfortable with both actors telling me a secret or two, and the transition was never awkward nor confusing.
At times, I found some of the dramatic scenes a little much, almost like a reality show where people argue, just to argue, but for the most part, Mr. Cahn’s script moves along nicely, and keeps us in the heads of the characters.
Overall, this is a rewarding night at the theater. You’ll laugh, you’ll poke your partner in the ribs during certain lines, and you’ll thoroughly enjoy Embraceable Me, now playing at the Stage Door Theater through April 17th.
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