From October 25-28, UWA students, faculty and staff were able to attend and experience the UWA Theatre production of ‘Couples’ by Rich Orloff.
Directed by Kristopher Kuss and Rebekah Horton, the play was a series of six 10-minute scenes portraying couples and their dynamics in very different ways. At the end a speaker lead a talk-back session to speak and interact with the audience. I attended the opening night when nerves were at an all-time high and the excitement filled the air.
What I found most interesting is that the audience was on the stage during the entire production. It was very intimate being in the same presence as the actors. The set props were on wheels and easily exchangeable between scenes. The floor was covered in hundreds of photos donated by the theatre crew and others in the Livingston community. I believe the pictures symbolized the relationships we all have with different people. The backdrop changed with each scene by projector and reflected the setting of each place.
In the first scene, “Matterhorn”, we are introduced to Jerry and Arleen. They are a married couple with kids visiting Disneyland. It’s a hot summer day standing in line but the tension between the couple is boiling. They argue the entire scene and it climaxes with the couple agreeing only that they hate each other. They each seemed comforted by the fact that they agreed on something and they had some effect on one another. The scene ended with them smiling and taking their turn for the Matterhorn.
Scene Two, “Heart of the Fire”, is set in an East Village bar. We meet Julie as she’s writing a stern letter to an unknown person. Her brother, Paul walks in and she becomes immediately infuriated. Their mother is dying and her last wish is that her daughter comes to see her. Julie does not want to placate her mother because of the harsh feelings she harbors for her mother. Paul gives her the address and exits. We see Julie contemplating her choice as the scene ends.
In “Afterglow”, we meet Lena and Glen. They’ve both recently met in a grocery store and they are lying in Glen’s bed. Glen and Lena both compliment the sex they had while they get dressed. Glen suggests doing again sometime but Lena wanted to leave it at great sex and nothing more. The scene ends with Glen asking Lena for her number and she agrees to give it to
Scene four brings us to Susanna and Bret. In “Invisible Woman”, the two meet up at a bar and Bret asks Susanna an innocent question about how she is doing when the scene paused. Susanna stands out to the audience and explains what it’s like to be an invisible woman. The scene eventually resumes and the two finish their conversation as the lights dim.
“Right Sensation” is set in Paula’s bedroom where things are getting steamy with Stewart. They kiss but as his hands roam the more hesitant she becomes. She eventually reveals to Stewart that she is a breast cancer survivor with the scars to prove it. She had undergone a mastectomy with an implant to normalize her body, but she is still afraid human touch. Stewart reassures her that he is accepting of her body and they resume where they left off.
The last scene, “Oh Happy Day”, stars Larry and Elliot. The couple is one of the more functional ones of the entire play. They talk about their lives and memories past. That day was their anniversary so they exchange gifts accordingly after some light banter. The scene ends with them gazing into each other’s eyes.
The most enjoyable part was the talk-back speaker at the end of the play. It was led by Dr. Debbie Rose, a UWA faculty member. She interacted with the audience and brought up the dysfunctionality of each couple and all the different dynamics of the scenes. It was interesting getting to hear what the other audience members thought of the play.
In my opinion the production was wonderful. The combination of couple dynamics, audience seating and the talk-back made the show great. You could participate and give input which appealed to me and many audience members.
Even though this event is over I would highly suggest attending the next UWA theatre production in the spring when it is announced. The crew worked very hard for this performance and I have a firm belief that they did a wonderful job and will continue to do so with other productions.