A Drunken May-December Romance Becomes a Dangerous Liaison in Romulus Linney’s “Love Drunk”

Jess Jones and John Honeycutt star in "Love Drunk" (photo by Marilyn Elizabeth Gormon)
Jess Jones and John Honeycutt star in "Love Drunk" (photo by Marilyn Elizabeth Gormon)

Jess Jones and John Honeycutt star in "Love Drunk"  (photo by Marilyn Elizabeth Gormon)
Jess Jones and John Honeycutt star in "Love Drunk" (photo by Marilyn Elizabeth Gormon)

Much Seagram’s Seven is swilled and much bull is slung during J&J Productions’ inaugural presentation of Romulus Linney’s last play, Love Drunk, a bumpy all-night session during which a drunken May-December romance becomes a dangerous liaison for Wilbur Johnson (John Honeycutt) and Karen Bannerman (Jess Jones). He is a prosperous but plain sixty-something designer and builder of massive multistory log homes; she is a gorgeous but emotionally volatile twenty-something drifter dressed in grunge chic and toting a backpack. That they could ever find their way – together — from the living room of Wilbur’s plush mountain-top home to the bedroom requires more willing suspension of disbelief that this sixty-something reviewer can muster.

Alcohol brings out the worst in Wilbur and Karen, just as it does in George and Martha in the current PlayMakers Repertory Company production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Whereas Martha and George are merely intent on demolishing the essential delusions that make each other’s lives worth living, Karen and Wilbur carry on an uneasy (and increasingly unlikely) flirtation as they circle each other warily, supposedly spilling their guts but more likely piling deception upon deception.

John Honeycutt is convincing as a Baby Boomer looking to sow yet another wild oat with a flirtatious wild child young enough to be his granddaughter, and Jess Jones skitters through Karen’s mercurial mood swings sure-footedly.

Jones and Honeycutt and director Joshua K. Benjamin do their best to persuade the audience that the improbable coupling of Karen and Wilbur could take place, but Romulus Linney’s script doesn’t contain sufficient evidence to support that plot twist. Moreover, Karen has too many mood swings; and her dalliance with a ceremonial dagger held at Wilbur’s throat is so alarming that it would be a real buzz kill that maybe even a double doze of Viagra could not overcome.

SECOND OPINION: Dec. 6th Durham, NC Independent Weekly review by Byron Woods (who awarded the show 2.5 of 5 stars): http://www.indyweek.com/artery/archives/2011/12/06/addictive-personalities-in-an-uncompleted-housejandj-productions-love-drunk-at-rep; and Dec. 5th Raleigh, NC CVNC review by Spencer Powell: http://cvnc.org/article.cfm?articleId=5227. (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the Dec. 2nd Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2011/12/john-honeycutt-and-jess-jones-will-star-in-romulus-linneys-two-character-play-love-drunk/.)

J&J Productions presents LOVE DRUNK at 8 p.m. Dec. 8-10, 7 p.m. Dec. 11, and 8 p.m. Dec. 15-17 at 213 Fayetteville St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27600, the home of Raleigh Ensemble Players.

TICKETS: $15.

BOX OFFICE: 919/417-2477 or https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/210573.

SHOW: http://www.realtheatre.org/.

VENUE: http://www.realtheatre.org/.

DIRECTIONS/PARKING: http://www.realtheatre.org/directions.html.

OTHER LINKS:

The Playwright: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romulus_Linney_(playwright) (Wikipedia).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

To start your FREE subscription to this newsletter, e-mail RobertM748@aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TTR in the Subject: line.

To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.

By Robert W. McDowell

Robert W. McDowell is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer, editor, and critic. He has written theater, film, book, and music previews and reviews for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, and Classical Voice of North Carolina, all based in Raleigh. In 1980-91, he covered business, industry, government, and education for (We the People of) North Carolina magazine, published monthly by N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry. In April 2001, McDowell started Robert's Reviews, a FREE weekly e-mail newsletter that provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of the performing arts in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, which includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro. Triangle Review is the latest-and-greatest version of McDowell's original newsletter. (To start your FREE subscription, e-mail robertm748[at]aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) From December 1980 until September 2017, McDowell served on the board of directors of The Cinema, Inc., a Raleigh-based nonprofit film society formed in 1966. He currently publishes a weekly list of FREE advance screenings of movies in the Triangle area. (To have your e-mail address added to this FREE list, e-mail robertm748[at]aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.) McDowell also co-edited and supervised the production of Jim Valvano's Guide to Great Eating (JTV Enterprises, 1984), a 224-page sports celebrity cookbook; and he served as a fact checker for Valvano: They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract, and Then They Declared Me Dead (Pocket Books, 1991).