Review: The Mystery of Love and Sex at OpenStage, Fort Collins

OpenStage of Fort Collins opens its 46th season with the funny and thought-provoking The Mystery of Love and Sex, by Bathsheba Doran. Staged at the Art Center of Fort Collins (900 North College Avenue, Building A), it can be seen on weekends from September 14 to October 6, 2018.  (For tickets, go to the OpenStage website.)

Mystery-useThe Art Center of Fort Collins is a “found” space, with chairs placed on risers surrounding a central, floor-level stage.

This theatre-in-the-round staging in such a relatively small, intimate setting engenders in the audience a sense of delightful immediacy.

The mysteries begin with Charlotte and Jonny, college freshme,n preparing to host her parents at a rather informal dinner party.

Charlotte and Jonny been best friends since they were nine years old and think they know everything about the other…but they really don’t. Charlotte also thinks she knows everything about her parents, and Jonny about his mother, but they really don’t.

Charlotte is white, and Jewish. Jonny is black, and Baptist. The different in their religions doesn’t concern Charlotte – her father Howard, a successful mystery writer, is Jewish and her mother, Lucinda, is not. The difference in their races doesn’t concern Charlotte either…but does it concern Howard or Lucinda? But when it comes to her own sexuality – that’s what Charlotte isn’t sure about.

These mysteries, and more, must be unraveled by Charlotte, Jonny, Howard and Lucinda over the course of this episodic and bittersweet journey of discovery.

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Robert Moore as Jonny and Jesse Lynton as Charlotte in a rehearsal photo for The Mystery of Love and Sex. Photo courtesy OpenStage Theatre

In any production of The Mystery of Love and Sex – well, of any “rom com,” really – it’s important for the characters to have a chemistry together. They can’t be “characters,” they have to be real people who we sympathize with.¬† OpenStage’s production succeeds, thanks to Corinne Wieben’s sure direction.

Just because we sympathize with the characters doesn’t mean they are necessarily likeable. Charlotte demands more of Jonny than he is prepared to give. It’s all about her. However, as the mystery of her life unfolds, we see the reason for her insecurities and a liking for her can grow. Jesse Lynton is appealing as Charlotte, as is Robert Moore as Jonny, an aspiring writer who admires her father’s writing abilities – but is nevertheless willing to use him for his own ends.

L.Michael Scovel is a steady, dependable Howard…whose confidence and self-belief begin to crack as Jonny tells him a few home truths. Nicole Gawronski as the “southern belle” who married outside her faith but does her best to play the role she thinks she must, is especially poignant as her mysteries unfold.

Are the mysteries of love and sex completely solved by the end of the play? See it and find out.

The Cast

Charlotte Jesse Lynton
Jonny Robert Moore
Howard L. Michael Scovel
Lucinda Nicole Gawronski

The Crew

Director Corinne Wieben
AD/Stage manager Jack Krause
Sound Designer Corinne Wieben
Properties Designer Susan Rogers
Costume Designer Dasha Ann
Production Manager Sydney Parks Smith
Production Managers Denise and Bruce Freestone
Box Office Manager Briana Sprecher-Kinner

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