Play explores themes of fantasy, macabre

Set in a fantasy world divided by an imaginary line between the morbid and the magical, LoveSick is a play that follows the lives of two young people from different walks of life as they go through a journey of self-discovery, only to discover that they have more in common than either would ever believe. With its warped sense of humor, the play, which runs at the Loft Ensemble Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles for a limited engagement until Feb. 24, provides a unique insight into the darker side of love.

The play begins in a graveyard where tombstones protrude from the floor. In this spooky setting, lead character Benjamin (Adam Chambers) and his two friends (Noah Benjamin and Matt McCroskey) discuss their fascination with all things dark and creepy. The dedication put forth by the cast into fleshing out their respective roles is evident throughout the entire production: The complex scenes are handled with such expertise that the audience easily can relate to the characters despite their surreal surroundings.

Switching from the morose to the magical, the play then introduces the very different life of Sophia, played by writer and director Larissa Wise. Sophia comes from a very different background than Benjamin. The audience’s first glimpse of Sophia is in an imaginary toy box, filled with colorful toys and gigantic teddy bears.  The contrast between Benjamin’s situation and Sophia’s gives the audience a visual interpretation of how vastly different the worlds of these soon-to-be lovers are. Opposites do attract, after all.

Benjamin and Sophia cross paths when she ventures to the graveyard. As soon as Benjamin steals a look at Sophia, he is immediately captivated by her glow and sweet, charming innocence, decidedly different than the ghoulish existence he’s familiar with. Despite opposition from his friends and Sally (Christina Joy Howard), a woman who is romantically pursuing Benjamin herself, he sets out to see Sophia again. Fortunately for Benjamin, Sophia is equally as enchanted with him as he is with her.

Actors Wise and Chambers definitely steal the show. In particular Wise proves to be a talented actor, writer and director, whose vision of the play works to capture the hearts and minds of audience members.

Chambers excels as a performer; his natural ability to entertain the audience with wit and quirky gestures adds a sense of authenticity to the show.

LoveSick elevates the sometimes overdone starcrossed-lovers storyline through its well-orchestrated dance scenes, colorful costumes and the poetic brilliance of the cast. With unique special effects, this play satisfies visually as well as thematically. Each member of the cast feels essential, with every performance adding its own substance to the show. Benjamin, McCroskey, Marissa Galloway and Jessica Botello all do an exceptional job as supporting characters, allowing Chambers and Wise’s characters to shine. And Howard and Jason Ryan Lovett (Frank) infuse their villainous characters with unique style and comic undertones, making them alarmingly real.

Despite the superb acting and the unconventional use of poetry, there are sexual undertones and physical movements that some audience members might find a bit raunchy and disturbing. Nevertheless, LoveSick successfully accomplishes what it set out to do — to entertain.