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.
BOX OFFICE: 919/417-2477 or https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/210573.
The Playwright: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romulus_Linney_(playwright) (Wikipedia).
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.
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