Another Valentine’s Day, another original romantic comedy from Circle Circle dot dot. For the last three Februarys, the theatre company has directed installments of San Diego I Love You, which is an example of a site-specific play. While the first two entries were performed at Hillcrest and University Heights, San Diego, I Love You 3.0 takes place outside, throughout the campus of UCSD.
The 2015 edition is about university students, and revolves around Louise, an intelligent and quick-witted lesbian who gets into a verbal altercation with her girlfriend, Nora. As their heated conversation goes on, a sexually confused young woman, Joanne, awkwardly witnesses the incident.
After Nora leaves, Louise and Joanne converse as a way of trying to move on from the uncomfortable situation. They immediately hit it off and clearly have a lot of chemistry. Alas, Joanne starts to have feelings for a male teacher’s assistant, Tate, which could jeopardize her future relationship with Louise.
What makes San Diego, I Love You 3.0 such a joyful campus adventure is how writer and director, Artistic Director of CCdd, Katherine Harroff, immerses the audience in her story. Not only do different scenes take place all over the school, but sequences sometimes feature characters speaking to each other as viewers follow them to a new destination. There is no shortage of amusement getting to watch the plot unfold in often-picturesque sights.
Harroff once again displays real knack for humor. Louise and Joanne are likeable and sympathetic coeds primarily because of their self-deprecating banter.
Since several actors portray the characters during the six scenes, some might be confused, even when they wear distinctly colored backpacks to represent Louise and Joanne. This is especially true during the first two scenes, for the former is a dialogue-based segment and the latter is a dance vignette. However, even the easily puzzled should be able to put the pieces together by the third scene.
Performers such as Whitney Shay, Beth Gallagher, Soroya Rowley and Alexandra Slade maintain consistent personality traits, which makes Louise and Joanne strong roles. The one fictional person that does not feel as fully realized is Tate.
In scene 1, Andrew Steele finds the right balance as Tate, between being naturally suave yet creepy. Though, in scene 4, Kyle Lord turns Tate into a shallow and self-centered sleazeball. The problem in the scene is not necessarily the dialogue, staging or Lord’s acting. He even manages to get some laughs from his intentionally pathetic behavior. What comes across as somewhat jarring is the abruptness in Tate becoming a total narcissist.
Harroff makes up for this with two final chapters that feature upbeat moments as well as breezy choreography from Blythe Barton. Her dance style has such a delightful quality that it might result in many people grinning.
A fairly laidback tone and creative direction make CCdd’s latest work a charming and sublime event. Although it is only about an hour in length, the narrative is a feel good experience for couples and singletons alike.