Walking through the auditorium doors at the Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center at Montgomery College to see The Department of Theatre’s production of Charles Mee’s Big Love, I was delighted to find not only a beautiful set, but an intriguing one as well. Scencic Designer/Head Carpenter Roger Bridges and Scenic Artist Marisa Johns did a wonderful job setting the stage – both literally and figuratively. And it’s always advantageous to enjoy music you and everyone else in the auditorium knows, loves and can sing along to while waiting for the show to begin, provided by Sound Designer Neil McFadden.
Big Love is the story of 50 wives who’ve escaped to a no-name coastal town in Italy from Greece and their impending marriages to 50 cousins. It’s a simple story cleverly packed with a barrage political allegories that will keep you on alert as you scramble the morse code. The show opens with Lydia (Kiah Mahy) walking down the aisle and to the stage. Once she reaches it, she strips off her wedding gown and slips into the tub center stage. It is a beautiful scene.
Once all of the sisters arrive, it is Thyona (Christina Shields) and Olympia (Taylor Payne), who unite with Lydia to lead their charge. Giuliano, (Ren Page) who is a natural comic, is the first to greet the ladies and introduce them the Piero (James Nelson): the man who, when all is said and done, will decide their fate with his authority to grant them asylum or not. In a truly hilarious moment – I literally laughed out loud for much longer than I should have – the husbands locate, target, and execute an ambush via military helicopter and parachutes. Constantine (Brian McDermott) leads his troops to capture the defectors with republic force while his lieutenant, Nikos (David Tuttle), leads with a heartfelt impulse and, in the end, it’s all love and war.
Big Love is replete with metaphorical dances, literal dances, men falling from the sky, sex, love, and murder. And it is all visually stunning. Director Karin Abromaitis stages a beautiful and physically moving show. All the young actors worked from the heart, and I am confident that their performances will grow stronger during the rest of the run. It was a nostalgic experience to revisit my beginnings.
Running Time: Approximately two hours, including a 10-minute intermission.
Big Love plays at The Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center – 51 Mannakee Street in Rockville, MD at Montgomery College’s Rockville Campus tonight though Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday, April 21st at 2 PM. Ticketsare $10 Regular, and $8 for Seniors and Students.