By Mary Boyle
In the late 1990's, psychologist Arthur Aron created a quiz consisting of 36 personal questions and gave the quiz to couples who were complete strangers to see if they would fall in love. The remarkable thing? They did. Some even got married. The quiz, Aron found, even helped married couples rekindle their romance. This is the premise behind Jennifer Lane's new play, To Fall in Love, presented by The Constructivists at the Underground Collaborative in Milwaukee.
Merryn (Madeline Wakley) and Wyatt (Matthew Scales) are a couple on the verge of divorce, but agree to meet and "give it one last shot" by taking Aron's quiz over Arnold Palmers and chips and dip at Wyatt's apartment. Well, make that bourbon and pizza. As the questions become more personal, they uncover pain and fears, as well as love and passion, but which one will win?
Directed by Jaimelyn Gray, The Constructivists' Founder and Artistic Director, To Fall in Love explores the complexities of love and loss, but the playwright's extremes of these conditions creates a loss of empathy from the audience; the concept is brilliant, but the work would have been more powerful if the characters and situation were more average. A plain old ordinary marriage has enough trials for anyone.
Earlier this season, I saw The Constructivists' production of The Pillowman. Although the production was great, overall, I did not care for the violence for the sake of violence nature of the play; the shock value made me uncomfortable -- not in the manner of a hard lesson being learned, but uncomfortable in the manner of watching something I wasn't supposed to be watching. Like The Pillowman, To Fall in Love has a similar shock value in that the level of intimacy between Merryn and Wyatt feels like something you shouldn't be witnessing, and the enclosed space of the UC heightens that sensation. Pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable in live theatre seems to be The Constructivists hallmark. Nonetheless, the play is well cast, well acted, and anyone who has been in a relationship will undoubtedly relate to these two characters whose interaction is alternately funny, intense, disturbing, and passionate; the messy, beautiful, horrible, magical, difficult thing that is love.
To Fall in Love runs through April 13th at the Underground Collaborative, located in the basement of the Grand Avenue Mall at 161 W. Wisconsin Ave. in Milwaukee. Tickets are available online at theconstructivists.org or by calling the Box Office at (414) 858-66874.
About The Constructivists
Milwaukee's new Non-Equity Theatre company, The Constructivists, are committed to creating accessible, viscerally-driven live theatre, exposing and exploring the complexity of human nature and the perils it creates in an effort to challenge, enlighten, educate, and entertain a diverse, mature audience. The Constructivists are excited to announce their second season! Coming in Fall of 2019, The Constructivists will take on the rarely-produced dark comedy "God of Hell" by Sam Shepard, as well as "The Nether" by popular contemporary female playwright, Jannifer Haley.