What exactly is an Existential Romance Novel? and please god, don’t tell my mother about them!

10 Dec

That is a direct quote- I said it in my head, to myself- from my time as audience member for the Theatre of NOTE‘s latest- “The Invisible Play”.

INVISIBLE_footlight_coverTo sum up my thoughts on the play let me say that it is fun, clever, charming, and poignant. I had moments where I got lost in “OMG! I feel that way sometimes!” and others where the idea of the story just made me giggle. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my evening of theatre.

It starts a little like the Tom Hanks 80’s film, Joe versus the Volcano, so I was a touch worried at first (how could such a small space showcase a volcano?_- but then it turns out that it was really channeling the first season Buffy episode where everyone ignores Marcy and she gradually fades away.

Turns out there’s a whole other world where people are “visible invisible”, or also some not visible “visible invisibles” and there’s a whole quantum physics theory or some such- I’m a psychologist, I don’t do hard sciences!- at play which is neither here nor there.

So... you don't actually do yoga when you do existential yoga? This is a thing?

So… you don’t actually do yoga when you do existential yoga? This is a thing?

What’s important is that the setting is a publishing house, and the main focus of the story, Colin, has done little in his life to stand out from the crowd. So everyone kind of forget him. Even when looking directly at him. Sad, really. So Colin meets Ramona, who is sort of this quirky little character that you just instantly love because you can’t not, and she’s the one who shows up to keep the story moving forward, and provide information. And there’s Lawrence- a disembodied voice. In the visible world, there’s Fran and Tim and Carmen and Nancy, and the very eccentric Miss Mrs Kitty. The rest form a solid secondary cast to bounce things off and move the story forward, but the focus of the play is really Ramona, Colin, and Fran.

I can’t say much more because it would be plot and I am anti-spoiler! However, it’s an interesting dynamic and triangle.

My one gripe about the show is a little thing, and honestly I’m not sure if it was an actual plot hole or an actor line flub. It’s the timeline. See… in the beginning of the show it’s stated there are two weeks until Mrs. Kitty’s existential romance novel (see? there was a reason for my curiosity!) is due, and then its three days to get it to the printers. So later, something happens and Fran has 3 days to get the book done and in. Time passes, and it seems that the final chapters get to her just in time. So now she are three days to get the book edited and to the printers. Except that in the next scene Fran says it’s been a week since the thing happened… which means the book should be to the printer but the rest of the act is trying to get it finished finished. So… something timey wimey happened, right? I need several white boards to truly explain this. But it’s my one gripe and when I ignored it and just focused on the characters and story… I was a) much happier and b) quite entertained.

Considering that my only complaint is a probable line flub, people in Los Angeles who enjoy theatre and comedy, in particular, should get off their duffs and go see this play. My earlier assessment holds true- it is fun, clever, charming, and poignant. The fun is in the light hearted comedy. Clever because I can’t think of another play that approaches the world from this view… The charm comes from the sweet characters, their dynamics together, and the lovely cast portraying them. And finally poignant. We’ve all had days where we felt ignored and unheard… what happens if that becomes our whole life?

Ramona and Colin... interact.

Ramona and Colin… interact.

One of my favorite lines is just a simple thing- “Love is love”- but it’s so true. It’s worth it just for the scene this is said- Ramona (Kirsten Vangsness) and Colin (Trevor H. Olsen) have brilliant timing throughout their interactions, but in this moment… shortly after they first meet and the audience starts to understand what is going on… that was when everything sparked.

Ugh. I wish I could tell you more! But- SPOILERS!

Just trust me- go see it. The show runs through December 21st.

*Photos borrowed from Theatre of NOTE facebook page, credit to Eric Neil Gutierrez.

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