Sweet Love Adieu (or 'The Bard Gets Hard!')
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LA STAGE REVIEWS
June 07, 2016
What I liked
What I didn't like
My overall impression
With Ryan J-W Smith’s newest play “Sweet Love Adieu” receiving its world premier at the 2016 Hollywood Fringe Festival, a new genre has evolved: The Tastelessly Tasteful Parody Comedy. What is crystal clear is that Smith, Artistic Director of his own Rogue Shakespeare Company, simply adores the Great Bard’s classics. One can easily imagine Smith beginning his day brushing his teeth with Shakespeare, combing Shakespeare through his hair, eating a bowl of Shakespeare, writing Shakespeare-style plays, eating Shakespeare for dinner and, finally, heading to bed and covering himself with Shakespeare.
With “Sweet Love”, Smith goes far out on the fringe as he sets his alchemical talents to the task of transforming elements of Shakespeare’s beloved tragedy, “Romeo and Juliet”, into a non-stop, hilarious, irreverent (if not fully raunchy) parody while at the same time refusing to ridicule, mock, exploit or disrespect the original story or style.
The script, deftly written in rhyming couplets, is just too lively and laugh-out-loud hilarious for any reasonable theater-goer to be offended by the volume of sexually explicit acts and banter that occur on stage. The presentation is too good and too, well, classy to be considered vulgar or crude.
Company actors Jason Linforth and Katey Zouck deliver soulful, whimsical performances as the youthful love interests while Smith, acting in the role of the storyteller, delivers several brilliant monologues. Actor Lance Frantzich, playing four separate roles, stands out as the comedy relief in a comedy that doesn’t need comedy relief. That his characters draw uproarious laughter is testament to the hand that penned the lines, but Frantzich is a gifted physical actor who brings the lines and characters to humorous life.
“Sweet Love” is full of subtle and not-so-subtle-by-comparison surprises (though nothing is really subtle in “Sweet Love”). But towards the end, just when you think you can’t possibly laugh any harder, actress Faith Kearns is featured in an uber-surprising, side-splitting scene that makes you certain that the $12 you paid is the best investment in entertainment you’ve made in your entire life.
Actors Roger Carvalho, Ryan Stiffelman and actress Megan Barker round out the talented, funny cast and each turned in admirable performances.
“Sweet Love” is being staged at the intimate McCadden Theater, a perfect setting for this particular show. By “intimate”, what is being hinted at is, GET YOUR TICKETS NOW. Word is sure to spread through the Fringe of what Smith and his cohorts are doing there. Only the early bird fringers will be privileged enough to exit the theater, into the light, alit and with sore cheeks, knowing what was just experienced wasn’t as much a parody of Shakespeare as it is a loving tribute to the Bard of Avon, from Smith – a bard in his own right – for an Irreverent Bard is still a bard.
And you know it’s done with sweet love because love is what you feel as you journey home to share the experience with friends and family. That, after all, is what truly great theater does.
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