By Mary Tinti
June 18, 2012
BOSTON - Excellent communication is an essential component to any great relationship. And today, in an era rife with all sorts of social media platforms, there are so many ways for words and emotions to get lost in translation – even when two people are supposedly speaking the same language.
It is this inefficacy of language with which the characters in Aditi Brennan Kapil’s Love Person, currently being performed in Boston by Company One, attempt to grapple head on. Traversing the realms of spoken English, American Sign Language (ASL), Sanskrit poetry, emails, and voicemails, the four very different protagonists of Love Person find themselves bound by feelings of love, loneliness, and being misunderstood; conditions with which every audience member has no doubt identified at one point or another.
The relationships in this story are rather complicated, if not far fetched: lovers Free (Sabrina Dennison), who is deaf, and Maggie (Jacqueline Emmart), who is not, communicate through ASL and seem to have lost the spark in their relationship. Free is pretty surly all of the time whereas Maggie is affable and earnest (and for me, their on-stage chemistry was questionable throughout). Free’s hearing sister, Vic (Scarlett Redmond), is a hot mess who works at Club Cacophony (too cute, right?) where she somehow picked up Ram (Nael Nacer) while he was in town paying his cousin a visit. Ram is a lovely, nerdy Sanskrit expert who longs for someone who can share the beauty of his beloved poems with him on a similar intellectual and emotional level and yet, despite the best efforts of the author and the cast, at no point in this play is it possible to think that person ever could or should be Vic.
Upon his departure from the bar, Ram gets caught up in an ongoing online conversation about poetry with Free (whom he believes is Vic) that feeds both of their desires for pure communication (him, free from social awkwardness and her, free from a reliance on gesture or an interpreter).
As the plot thickens and each of the characters is forced to confront various acts of deception and the consequences of those actions, it seems as though the play has missed an opportunity to really delve into the provocative nuances of language and translation rather than the surface problems that result from simply not being truthful.
A language, whether signed, spoken, written, or sung, is a critical, complex communicative tool and that certainty is front and center in Love Person. While the play did not push the parameters of communication as deeply as I may have hoped, it did provide a beginning of sorts…a way into a conversation that is absolutely worth continuing.
Photo: Jacqueline Emmart (Maggie) and Scarlett Redmond (Vic)
Photo credit: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo
A Boston Premiere by Aditi Brennan Kapil
Directed by M. Bevin O'Gara
May 25, 2012 – June 23, 2012
BCA Plaza Theatre
539 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116
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Mary is a Koch Curatorial Fellow at the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. On her blog, Dress For Sports, she says, "I love innovative public art, creative design, and unique intersections of architecture, sculpture, and installation. And I love stumbling upon cool collisions of art and everyday life." Mary has a Ph.D. in art history from Rutgers University.