Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Mechanics of Love

Mechanics of Love is a comedy by Dipika Guha, produced by To-By-For Productions. It’s about Glen, husband to Faizi and buddy to Georg, who marries Francesca. It seems that Glen has a condition – he forgets things. And he’s forgotten that he’s married to Faizi. We learn later that this isn’t his first bigamous blunder. “After the fourth wife, I got used to it,” Faizi tells Georg.
But a poor memory doesn’t account for all the play’s romance. Faizi and Francesca fall in love, Georg and Francesca fall in love, Georg and Faizi fall in love… Okay, maybe it’s just lust sometimes, but in short, everyone falls for nearly everyone else, for no reason whatsoever. The mechanics of love, Ms. Guha is telling us, are the mechanics of anarchy. “What if this is all there is?” Francesca says, “No present. No past. No future.” And, for this playwright, no reasons.
Everything in a drama happens for a reason, and that’s why this idea makes a promising premise. It suggests a type of absurdism. But a writer would have to do some pretty handsome playwrighting to make the idea work. Ms. Guha never manages to dramatize her concept. The action of the play is arbitrary and superficial. The characters are never developed and we never grow to care about them.
Glen doesn’t forget about Francesca; she’s cured him of his condition, while contracting it herself. Like the four characters’ emotional forays, there’s no reason for this. And Francesca’s forgetfulness isn’t necessary to explain the fact that she falls for each of the others. Faizi does the same thing, and she’s immune to the disorder.
Sathya Sridharan gives the show’s best performance, as Glen. He analyzes well and expresses a breadth of personality. Eric T. Miller, as Georg, and Victoria Frings, as Faizi, are believable. As Francesca, Anastasia Olowin is limited. All four try hard to be funny and their delivery of their lines is sometimes brainless.
Elena Araoz keeps the show moving allegretto. It speeds by in 90 minutes. She’s keeps her actors in the eternal present, like clowns, just as the playwright indicates. And she keeps the play clear and focused.
But there’s not much a company can do with this script. Ms. Guha has put an interesting conceit on stage, but she hasn’t honed it to suit a drama, even a comedy. Mechanics of Love is a concept thwarted in dramatic execution.
Steve Capra
September 2016