Lifelong friendships are messy. They have the gift of strength through formative, shared experiences, but also carry the curse of emotional conflict when personal paths diverge. You grow and feel things with one another, sharing in the joys and frustrations of first loves and in the tragedy of losing a family member. However, in a lot of forms of media, these long friendships are often played as one-note: these two people have been friends for a long time, so they must be the best of friends. This portrayal misses the mark, however, as no life long friendship is stable just because of the large amount of time spent with one another. It is refreshing, then, to see Out of Love take such a raw, emotional look at what it means to be platonically entwined with another person for so long.
The story follows the lives of Grace and Lorna, childhood friends who are implied to be living in a small town in the English countryside. Like pieces of a puzzle, the story of their lives together is shown non-chronologically, jumping between early childhood to late adulthood. Throughout the 75 minute run time, you will slowly piece together not only the overarching narrative, but also contextualize certain scenes and how Grace and Lorna are behaving to each other in that moment. It’s a frantic way to tell a story, but it intentionally mirrors the nature of the subject matter.
The writing on display here is unflinching. The character development of both Lorna and Grace pulls no punches, intentionally zooming in on the awkward moments of life that carry more weight than we care to admit. The sexual frustration of the teenage years is put on full display next to the sheer fury of a fight between friends over an abusive lover and the deep sadness of a family torn apart. Out of Love is truly raw stuff: instead of the clean coming-of-age story, it is a messy tale that opts to show that we never really fully mature. These themes are well explored and make for highly compelling material.
Even better, then, that the acting on display for these moments is so incredibly strong. Grace and Lorna (Laura Berner Taylor and Sarah Gise) flourish in every mindset that the show requires of them. Every age and every emotion shown in the production felt real and authentic; they should be highly commended for the clear amount of effort they put into becoming these characters.
Out of Love will make you take a hard look at the unglamorous side of friendship. Stellar acting paired with refreshingly nuanced and emotional themes make this Interrobang Theatre production well worth the price of admission. (Ryan Moore)
Highly Recommended ★★★★
Out of Love continues at Rivendell Theatre through 9/14. More info here.
The Hawk Chicago is included in TheatreInChicago's Review Round-Up.
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