By Marcina Zaccaria . . .
Solo Theater is a courageous journey, where delving into the inner recesses of the mind must stop short of becoming a reckless, circuitous journey.
Linda Manning (Writer of Bite the Apple and There is No You and Me) proves mighty onstage in Perfect Love. She travels back to the quieter places in her mind where memory becomes foggy. Wishing for perfection, dreaming of movie actors, talking her way past blocks caused by trauma or despair, the actress struggles to find a place where she can confront the ugly images of her stepfather or other men seeking her attention.
The world looms large. A 70s something female was seeking a type of perfection, beyond the feminine mystique where a young woman could hope not to be devalued or ignored or thrown away. Linda Manning wants to interrogate this type of perfection. She repeats sequence by sequence, slowly developing consciousness beyond an unsightly room. The truth of her teens is nothing like a beautiful confusion. Yet, her desire to find form and create beauty is constantly present. Alone on stage, shedding light on passages of time that had been obscured, the solo artist finds dimension in a previously empty space.
The virtue of an Off-Broadway space is not a mystery to Director Gretchen Cryer, Performer and Writer of the book and lyrics to I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking it on the Road. In Perfect Love, direction from this Obie, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Award Winner has an effortless flow. With Cryer’s interpretation, there is the belief that the lead character must grow beyond traumatic stress to become an independent woman who might one day build a world to her dreams.
In Perfect Love, the design supports the actor’s work, with bright lights and subtle music, composed and designed by Jono Hill. The play ends on a beautiful, upturned note, with loud sound and bright light as the Performer, who is the Actor, who was the Writer wants to tell you there’s something beyond the pain and the sorrow entangled in the moments that were missed.
Perhaps, the Cherry Lane Theatre is the perfect place to see this drama unfold. This gem in the West Village has been a birthplace for new plays, including the works of Edward Albee and Tennessee Williams. Glittery spotlights and great entrances were all present in the 1950s when Method Acting was brought to the masses, creating a new space for reflection while the psychology of the actor was revealed. Located on a curved side street, surrounded by trees, open again to the public, the Cherry Lane is celebrating its 100th year Anniversary in 2023. It is anticipated that, in its 100th year, it will again become a space for major photo-ops and limousines, the type of place where big glamour meets hard-hitting drama on a brilliant theatrical map.
Perfect Love is playing until May 22 at the Cherry Lane Alternative, located at 38 Commerce Street. It is presented as part of a series of five solo shows. To find out more about all five shows, go to TrueStoriesPlay.com.
Photos by Mike Pinney