|Publication Date: Friday, August 13, 2004
A swine valentine
'Love of a Pig' features solid performances, humorous moments
by Chris Ziegler-McPherson
Pigs, we are told, are misunderstood creatures. People think they are dirty and sweet when they are actually clean and nasty, according to Leslie Caveny's play "Love of a Pig."
But when it comes to pigs of the human male variety, there is no misunderstanding. We all know a male pig when we encounter one.
In Dragon Productions' "Love of a Pig," now running at the Pear Avenue Theatre, the "pig" in question is Joe, the mysterious and aloof (translation: callous and rude) bassist in Jenny's jazz ensemble.
We all know a Jenny, the woman who falls for bad (or at least not nice) men who not only don't love her but don't even notice her. She fears being alone because she does not enjoy her own company.Jenny dreads the silence of her life so much that she keeps her apartment quiet -- not out of courtesy to her neighbors, but out of fear she might miss hearing the footsteps of a would-be lover outside her door. She methodically dissects her life, yet cannot step outside of herself to see how repulsive her desperation is to the men she desires.
Jenny is so obsessive about getting a man she breaks down life into a series of calculations. She estimates she will live approximately 75 years or 26,700 days; she hopes for nearly 39 years of married life (14,120 days), but factors in the possibility of spending half of that time -- 7,120 nights -- alone as her fantasy husband travels for business. She divides the world into "havers" (those who have someone else in their lives) and "have-notters" (nuns and herself).
How mixed up is Jenny? She thinks Stephen King's horror novel, "Cujo," is a love story about the pain we cause the ones we love.
While it is debatable whether Jenny's latest obsession, Joe, is a bona fide pig or an average guy who simply isn't interested in her, the question becomes moot when Jenny discovers at a post-performance party that Joe is actually a wolf in pig's clothing. Joe is not interested in Jenny but is definitely interested in sex with Jenny.
Our heroine hits romantic rock bottom when she convinces herself that a one-night stand with Joe will jump-start her non-existent relationship with him. But when he sneaks out in the middle of night, Jenny is forced to confront herself and the question of how low she is willing to go for Joe.
The resolution of Jenny's "romance" is neat and tidy, yet somewhat unfulfilling, but that is more an issue with how Caveny chooses to end her play, rather than the performance of "Love of a Pig," which is dynamite.
"Love of a Pig" stars Dragon Productions Executive Producer Meredith Hagedorn as Jenny, the 20-something violinist who is in love with Joe (played by Bill Olson Aug. 12-14 and Aug. 19-21 and by Chris Yule Aug. 15 and 22). Hagedorn and director Kay Kleinerman use the theatrical device of having the other seven cast members play multiple characters in Jenny's life, ranging from the members of her jazz ensemble to suitors pursuing the woman who used to live in Jenny's apartment.
Randall Marquez is the mailman, a figure in Jenny's life akin to the garbage man in Scott Adams' "Dilbert" comic, the lone individual who sees and knows far more about our inner lives than we would like to acknowledge. Erin Carter, Laura Jane Bailey and Kimberly Mohne Hill play members of the ensemble and man advisers Crystal, Amy, and Polly (Dana Brambley plays Amy Aug. 14), and Scott Hartley and Blake Maxam are fellow musician Sean and conductor Mr. Michaels. All of the cast is strong, particularly Hagedorn as Jenny and Olson as Joe.
In playing the different people in Jenny's life, Hartley, Maxam, Carter, Bailey and Mohne Hill are given especially amusing moments in a funny play and make the most of them. A health club scene in which Crystal, Amy and Polly lecture Jenny on the difference between being a "grow-on" (one who grows on another emotionally), and a "fall-for" (one for whom men fall for), is particularly clever, while Maxam's monologue in the bar was precious. And Hartley reads a love letter the way many women hear such sweet nothings in their heads.
Caveny's play is one long act that does not drag or become boring. The
lack of a back stage or intermission gives the actors no rest, and the cast,
except for Hagedorn, serves as a Greek chorus when not playing their primary
roles. The set is simple: A bed and a table serve as Jenny's apartment,
while a bar with stools provides seats for the chorus. Jenny talks as much
to the audience as to her fellow characters, and in a theater as small as
the Pear, the lack of the "fourth wall" practically brings the audience into
the play itself.
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