Feeling The Love
Katie Vaughn, Madison Magazine

Photo by Zane Williams

Romantic relationships are wonderful. They’re also complicated, messy and sometimes wrought with misunderstandings, breakdowns in communication and disappointment—and make for great theater! For its third production of the season, Forward Theater Company presents Love Stories, a combination of three one-act plays about the evolution of relationships. Opening tonight and running through April 29 at Overture Center’s Playhouse, the show features Here We Are by Dorothy Parker, The Jewish Wife by Bertolt Brecht and Village Wooing by George Bernard Shaw.

While director Paula Suozzi hadn’t worked on any of the plays prior to Love Stories, she liked each right away.

“I love Brecht’s work. Shaw I’ve worked on before,” she says. “Dorothy Parker I only really knew as a poet or prose writer. So it was fun to get to know her a little more.” Here We Are sees a young couple in the 1930s traveling by train to New York City for their honeymoon. “Here We Are is Dorothy Parker at her wittiest,” she says. “It’s clear they’re very uncomfortable. They’re about to have sex for the first time. They never say it but it’s all over the place.”

In The Jewish Wife, also set in the 1930s, a woman prepares to flee her home in Germany. “The wife is going through very real turmoil as she prepares to leave her husband, her marriage, her life,” Suozzi says. “The language is pretty simple but there’s so much underneath.”

And Village Wooing brings together a chatty telephone operator and a curmudgeonly writer. Both characters struggle with how to find a relationship in the pairing—and both are quite straightforward in their speech. “What’s on the page is pretty much what they mean,” she says. Suozzi has relished the opportunity to delve into Shaw, particularly because the two actors playing the couples in all three plays have an extensive background in his work. The actors are real-life married couple Colleen Madden and James Ridge from American Players Theatre.

“I think that the Shaw is great,” Suozzi says. “I have a whole new appreciation for Shaw. I think it’s from working with Jim and Colleen.”

Not only do Madden and Shaw take on the challenge of portraying a range of characters; they also offer the chance to extend the production to a new level. Forward is presenting an overstory of married actors coming into rehearsal for the three Love Stories plays.

Between the “rehearsals” the actors get to become scripted versions of themselves, talking about their marriage, kids and lives at home.

Suozzi believes audiences will enjoy this rare opportunity as well as the three plays themselves. “As a theatergoer, I really like seeing that sort of thing,” she says. They’re plays that don’t get done very often. I think they will make people laugh and cry.”

Posted on 4-13-12