Review: “Big Love” Answers All Questions About Love
Director Isaiah M. Wooden, cast and crew explain what it means to love
On Feb. 11-13 in the Harold and Sylvia Greenberg Theatre, AU’s Department of Performing Arts presented Charles L. Mee’s “Big Love,” an exciting story of 50 Greek runaway brides and their 50 cousins, soon-to-be husbands. With its combination of comical characters, modern-day themes and contemporary music, the show brought entertaining humor to nearly every audience member in attendance.
All of the actors and actresses in the production artfully portrayed their characters and wowed the crowd, particularly College of Arts and Sciences junior Robin Weiner as the hilarious Bella, College of Arts and Sciences junior Izzy Smelkinson as the passionate Eleanor and sophomore Jacob Gallo as Eleanor’s lover, Leo. The character we could all sympathize with, however, was Lydia, played brilliantly by freshman Emily Corinne Smith, who said she felt “so fortunate to have been welcomed in this department with such open arms. . . [and] it was an honor to work with such talent on such a thought-provoking piece."
As a complement to the exceptional acting, “Big Love” included modern music to add a modern twist to the classic Greek myth. Featuring death metal during the men’s rage sessions, girl power songs during the sisters’ and hits like John Legend’s “All of Me” and Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” the music set the tone for most of the scenes throughout the show. In addition to the music, brilliant lighting design helped transport the audience into the world of the characters before the actors uttered a single word.
Though the production was full of jokes, mostly sexual, that invoked contagious laughter, the themes and morals artfully placed stood out as the biggest takeaway from the production. “Big Love” fulfilled its promise to answer the ever-confusing question, “just what is love?” with unwanted marriages, quirky relationships, blossoming love, justified revenge and death.
After attempting to escape their fiancés, only to be found in a villa in Italy, four of the 50 sisters decided that the only way to escape their looming marriages was to kill their husbands, as most ancient Greek characters decide to do. But while the tough Thyona (Hannah Ruth Wellons), naive Olympia (Sara Yoney) and nearly mute Sister (Kate Anderson-Song) follow through with the murders of conservative Constantine (Hugh Raup), Oed (Jeff Chen) and Brother (Patrick McLaughlin), Smith’s Lydia discovers she actually loves her husband, Nikos (Tristan Salvon-Harman), and betrays her sisters by refusing to kill him.
Lydia’s decision between Nikos and her family evokes questions of whether or not love truly trumps all, as the wise Bella claims, and if one has the strength to believe in oneself. Smith makes the argument that “Lydia made the right decision by going with her intuitions and choosing love. She was able to be comfortable enough with herself to trust her gut instinct which I admire . . . Love is the most compelling feeling and she embraced this, instead of running away from it . . . I think the main message is to have faith in yourself.” One couldn’t help but root for Lydia and hope she would make the right decision for herself in the end.
Ultimately, the sisters realize Lydia was smart to give love a chance, but only after the exceptional soliloquy delivered by Weiner as Bella convinced them. All is right, except for the bloody dead bodies on the front of the stage, and the audience walked away knowing that love, or the lack thereof, is different for everybody, and only you can choose who or how you love.