“500 Days of Summer” meets “Sleepless in Seattle”
Please note the play contains subject matter that some may find sensitive.
This hilarious and heartfelt play both skewers and pays homage to the romantic comedy genre. Mark is a nice guy who never gets the girl, while Ally can’t seem to shake the world’s worst boyfriend. Both have built their romantic ideals on Disney heroes, fairy tales, and Cameron Crowe movies. They’re perfect for each other, but there’s just one problem: they’ve never met. As we follow their overlapping lives, we see all the ways these two are true soulmates, and wait for the moment they will find each other… if they find each other.
Mark and Ally are made for each other, but they just can’t seem to find one another. A Kind of Love Story tells their love story over several chapters, overseen by an omniscient narrator who tells us all about the two. Mark is stuck on the girl that got away: his best friend’s wife, Diane. Ally can’t seem to shake her terrible boyfriend, Max, who won’t commit. At several points, we think Mark and Ally will connect— Mark’s co-worker Lucy suggests he go out with her roommate (who we later learn is Ally). The two connect online, but their planned meeting is thwarted. Though they never speak, a chance encounter in a movie theater urges them both to take charge of their lives… and might finally lead them to one another.
Can Disney princesses offer good advice about romance to a modern young woman? Do comic-book superheroes have any helpful wisdom about relationships to share with a hip but hapless young man? Jenelle Riley explores these and many other questions about modern romance in the sprightly tale, A Kind of Love Story. This comedy lovingly skewers many of the tropes and conventions of modern “rom-coms” and other happily-ever-after stories that we’ve all come to know and love. The show is framed by a seemingly all-knowing “Narrator” (Rob Weinstein) who introduces the audience to the characters and then guides us through the story, much like a dad telling a quirky, modern-day version of a fairy tale.
Ally (Rachel Silvert) and Mark (Kyle Quinlivan) are two young people who have a lot in common. They’re witty, intelligent — and hopelessly romantic. They both love fairy tales, comic books, and Cameron Crowe movies. Sadly, they also have something else in common: they are both unlucky in love. Goodness knows, they’ve tried, but the right person has eluded them both. And in the process, they’ve also each endured more than their fair share of the hurts and indignities that are part of the modern dating scene.
Mark, we quickly realize, is the proverbial “nice guy.” All the women who know him think he’s charming. They like him a lot – but only as a friend. Whenever he attempts to kindle something, it always seems to go nowhere. As a result, he usually winds up on dates with co-workers and friends who aren’t right for him – with predictable results. Ally’s situation is a bit different. She has a steady boyfriend, Max (Travis Monroe Neese) – but deep down inside, she knows he’s not “the one.” Sure, Max can be charming when he wants to be (which is usually when he wants something), but he’s terrified of commitment and is often such a boorish clod that even she can’t figure out why she puts up with him.
Ally and Mark seem to be made for each another. They could be soul mates in the truest sense of the word. But there’s just one problem. They’ve never met, and they seem fated never to do so.
It’s not as though Ally and Mark don’t have close friends who are doing their best to help them. Mark’s best friend, Bob (Matthew Torres), is a pleasant fellow who’s been married for ten years to Diane (Lydia Hiller). As the long-married friend, Bob is always there for Mark, assuring him that “there’s someone out there for everyone… you just gotta hang in there!” But Bob may not be the best person to give Mark advice on relationships. With ten years of marriage under his belt, Bob is feeling a bit restless and is having second thoughts about his wife, Diane. This only complicates things for Mark, who’s had a secret crush on Diane for years.
Ally has helpful friends, too. Kelly (Sharon Kushiner) keeps encouraging her to break up with the loutish Max and find someone new. She gives Ally lots of advice and moral support. Unfortunately, most of her suggestions are little more than well-worn clichés along the lines of “You always find the right person when you’re not looking!” And then there’s Lucy (Jaclyn Renae Jensen), Ally’s roommate. Lucy is attractive, charismatic and popular, but her immaturity combined with a healthy dose of self-centeredness makes her another questionable source of advice. How questionable? One suggestion she offers for evaluating candidates found on dating websites: “Make sure you get full body shots and that they’re recent. Tell them to hold up today’s paper and take a picture!”
Ally does a lot better with Casey (Elizabeth Stenholt), a charismatic lesbian activist and writer who gives her wise council, support and friendship. Casey also helps Ally calculate the right balance between risking more pain and emotional scars by taking a chance on love and the potential rewards of happiness and satisfaction in a healthy relationship.
Will these more-than-star-crossed lovers overcome their own fears and the good intentions of their friends and finally meet? Will they create a true connection despite all the landmines of modern dating sites and social media? Will these two all-too-human human beings ever find their own happily-ever-after –- the way “rom-com” tradition says they should? Well, in the words of playwright Jenelle Riley, “In the end, it is my hope that the play has it both ways: both parodying and paying homage to the romantic comedy genre. Because everybody loves a happy ending.”
Directed by Keith Gerth
Bronte Deshong Stage Manager
Jaclyn Renae Jensen
Girl, Kelly Juneau Tammy Molly Charlotte
Travis Monroe Neese
Superman Boy Dad John Sam Dean Guy Colin Stefan
Belle Mom Brenda Casey