I was not sure what to expect when I walked into the venue to see Stories of Love and hate. On stage, there were but a few white boxes surrounded by the usual black curtains that separate the stage from the backstage. As the lights went off a woman came on stage and began dancing provocatively to the music as she greeted the audience. She then approached a woman on the audience and seductively does a lap dance for her.
But after the initial surprise of this act, the plot became clear as Valentine, a Christian Priest walked on stage, followed shortly after by Cupid. This, in fact, was a short storytelling act about the origins of probably the most well known holiday in the word: Valentine’s Day.
Cupid is sick and tired of love and romance, of the frivolity of the holiday, of the pressure men go through to find the perfect superficial gift for their loved ones. But then Venus and Valentine set to the task of reminding him what Valentines is about, and how it all started.
I found this first act to be interesting and educational, and the way the actors presented it made it easy to follow through all the transitions (Justin Deveau as Cupid/Jeff, Nicole Grainger as Venus/Chloe, Doug Verdin as Valentine, and Heather Morrow as Isabelle). Even with only a few boxes on stage, this play needs not more visual stimulation, and could in fact be unwelcome, since the first act moves from present to past, from places of war to prisons and churches, and the simplicity of the stage allows for a smooth transition from one setting to another. Even thought the transitions are not per se clear, I found it easy to recognize when each happened due to the good work of the actors who were, at times, portraying a different character as they told their story.
Half an hour into the play, the lights go out for about 5 minutes, and the arrangement of the boxes changes. Then, the same actress that portrayed sexy Venus comes out and plays a proper and nice woman who is getting ready for an important night. As she dresses up, she is having a conversation with a picture that is, using some imagination, on top of her drawer. After a few minutes into the one sided conversation, a sense of sadness overcomes the atmosphere of the theatre as she exists the stage. But the important night that she is so nervously preparing for is not what one may imagine at first. The second act, which tells a completely different story, is about love becoming hate, of the powerful emotions that evolve from it, and the dangers that accompany such strong feelings.
While both stories are about love and hate, and the acting is decent and engaging enough to draw the audience into the play and be interested in the stories. I think that this hour play is worth looking into even if just for an educational afternoon in which you’ll get to learn more about Valentine’s day.