Love, you never know where you’ll find it. Just ask 21-year-old Ash (Ryan Gray). Who have guessed that Ash would meet the love of his life at his grandfather’s funeral? Funerals aren’t exactly breeding grounds for romance, you know with the whole death thing. But when Ash laid his eyes upon his sobbing step-grandmother that day, something just clicked.
Presented by Urban Stories Theatre, Maria Crooks’ The Age of Love stages the ‘scandalous’ relationship between Ash and his 77-year-old step-grandmother Olivia (Diana-Marie Stolz). While the relationship is no problem for Olivia, a feisty mature woman, Ash has been slow about making their love known publicly. The thing is, Ash has a whole lot of money waiting to be inherited, but the inheritance is at the discretion of his mother Evelyn (Olga Primak). Ash can’t just marry anyone, you see, he needs to marry someone who has Evelyn’s approval, otherwise Ash receives nothing.
More libido than brains, Ash decides the best way to break the news to his mother is to have them all appear on a ratings thirsty tabloid TV show hosted by Lex Rodriguez (Ellen Sullivan).
Crooks goes beyond the taboo to find something sweet in Ash and Olivia’s relationship. Sure, the playwright goes for laughs, and maybe tries too hard in the process, but the playwright stays away from framing the two lovebirds as sexual deviants. Instead, Crooks is interested in exploring what exactly defines a normal relationship. So long as people are happy and not hurting anyone, then why should anyone worry about the status quo when their heart says otherwise?
Crooks takes a bite out of the status quo by positioning Ash and Olivia’s relationship against the outrageous spectacle produced by slimy, Jerry Springer-esque TV shows. Suddenly, there are far stranger things in life than a couple who just happen to be 50 years apart, like TV talk shows that exploit people for entertainment.
And in a fun twist, the eccentric psychologist and shoe fetishist Dr. Blezieau (Scottie Grinton) is perhaps the most rational person in the room.
With that being said, Crooks’ script could really benefit from a significant trim. 75 minutes feels just a little too long for this quirky play. While Britt Kennedy’s direction brings a lot of pep to the show, the material does start to run thin, especially towards the end.
On that note, there is not much on stage besides two chairs, a bed, and a desk. A good thing considering the front row has to be conscious of their feet so they don’t trip anyone during some of the more physical moments.
Stolz brings a lot of fire to the stage, and a lot of that fire comes out when she goes toe to toe against Primak. No easy battle given Primak plays Evelyn as less than a helicopter parent and more of a fighter jet. Gray is a lot of fun to watch as he tries to maintain the peace between the two fierce women.
Grinton is a real scene stealer with his faux, over the top German accent, and all the uncomfortable euphemisms that come out of his character’s well-meaning mouth. And the audience loves Sullivan as Lex, a TV host who cares more about camera angles than real human emotion. Sullivan has a great time with the character, and who wouldn’t when they get to poll the ‘studio audience’ on what they think about Ash and Olivia’s relationship?
Based on actual events, Crooks’ new play The Age of Love is a hilarious, oddly touching show that audiences will enjoy for its refreshing look at the taboo.
Urban Stories Theatre’s The Age of Love runs Nov 10 – 21 at Motel Theatre.
For more information about the show, including how to purchase tickets, visit: http://www.urbanstoriestheatre.org/