In times where the world is falling apart communication is key. And while the main surface of this story may be political, there is a dramatic underlying current of the labors of love slipped into the exchanges as Single Carrot Theatre opens its season with Caryl Churchill’s Drunk Enough To Say I Love You. Directed by Ben Hoover this brief narrative navigates America’s tumultuous political love affair with the rest of the world in a most unconventional method. Two actors and ne’er a complete thought shared between them and yet they communicate.
The script is literally impossible to follow. You catch snippets of phrases and many of these phrases are repeated. All of the dialogue exchanged between these two men are fragmented, never a completely finished sentence not even as they interrupt each other. So listening to the emotional cues of their voices, their bodies, and their facial expressions becomes essential to understanding the true turmoil of the situation.
Director Ben Hoover makes choices on the stage that place the production in a constant flummox of confusion. There is severe intensity that comes from the actors in moments that verbally makes no sense; Hoover then pairs this with a menial repetitious task like jumping-jacks or making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The speech patterns are written with jarring stilts but again Hoover makes a muddling decision here, often leaving awkward and unnatural pauses between one man cutting off and interrupting the other. It leaves the opening half of this brief show feeling a little clunky, like a runner stumbling at the beginning of the race.
Sam (Elliot Rauh) guides a good deal of the action and discourse on the stage. His character drives the scenes by constantly pounding emotional intonation into his words. We hear him over emphasizing key words like ‘bombs’ and ‘not responsible’ to carry the political weight of the conversation through the support of his expressive sound.
Rauh has a driving moment late in the show where he begins to methodically chop a carrot, adding more and more force to the physical task at hand as the methods of torture used upon prisoners of war grow more morbid and grotesque, each one less humane and more disturbing than the last. In this moment he is in a vacuum of political rage that explodes with every downward slam of the knife; the most visually captivating moment of the show if you look past the very sensual seduction in the opening moments.
Guy (Dustin C.T. Morris) becomes an echo and a sounding board as Rauh’s character puts him through his paces. There is confliction in both his sexual choice of being with Sam and his political involvement in all that is explored. These tensions mingle deliciously, bubbling and roiling at one another all contained in the tiny vessel of his physicality, which in stark contrast to Rauh’s cool composed mannerisms is volatile and tempestuous.
Morris races about the stage with a tenacity and passion, despite his confusion, that drives his character to push the envelope. This sparks conflict between he and Rauh and when the powder keg is let the bombs aren’t just falling from their lips anymore.
Although I found the show hard to follow, in true Single Carrot Theatre style, you will not walk away unaffected. Drunk Enough To Say I Love You will leave you thinking and pondering, exploring the relation of love and politics between individuals and country, between partners and America. It’s a thought-provoking roller-coaster of a show that should be considered just for the intense physicality alone.
Running Time: 45 minutes with no intermission.
Drunk Enough To Say I Love You plays through October 21, 2012 at Single Carrot Theatre hosted on October 6, 7, and 11 at Falvey Hall in the Brown Center of MICA and from October 12 through the close of the run on the 21, at Studio Center located – 113 W. North Avenue in Baltimore, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (443) 844-9253, or purchase them online.