Volume II, Issue I Spring 2003

Exploring the possibilities of love

Loves & Hours
Written by Stephen Metcalfe
Directed by Jack O'Brien

Old Globe Theatre
The Globe Theatres complex
Balboa Park, San Diego, Calif.
Through May 3

Dan Tilney is not having your typical midlife crisis – indeed, his wife left him for another woman.

And so the exploration that Tilney – the main character in Stephen Metcalfe's new play, "Loves & Hours" – embarks on is not typical, either.

In fact, Metcalfe's tenderly comic play (currently in its world premiere at The Globe Theatres), is a fairly fresh look at how we define and act on love.

As the play opens, Tilney is at a friend's wedding. Tilney does not approve, for Harold, like Tilney, is nearing 50 – while the bride is in her mid-20s, the same age as both men's grown children.

Loves & Hours
Monique Fowler and Brian Kerwin

But a chance encounter with another young woman of the same age leads not only to an unexpected romance for the newly divorced Tilney, but also calls into question his assumptions about age and love. His confusion is only abetted by his growing friendship with a woman his own age, to whom he is clearly drawn.

Metcalfe pulls off the considerable feat of mocking both middle-aged men who chase young women and those who automatically dismiss such romances as inherently vapid. While this play is clearly a celebration of the joys of middle-aged women, it also allows for a sincere, nonsuperficial appreciation of youth as well.

Not an out-and-out comedy, "Loves & Hours" is still driven in large part through humor. Metcalfe has a way with a phrase ("I feel I ought to warn you that I haven't so much as kissed a woman other than my wife in ... well, in your lifetime"), as well as in creating believable scenes from all our lives.

The story only grows slow at one point toward the end when Metcalfe has the characters approach the front of the stage and wax philosophical about love to the audience. It's a true Hallmark moment – saccharine and cloying.

Fortunately, the ending avoids most of that and instead allows each character to grow a bit.

Jack O'Brien's touch as director is sure, and the cast he assembled is a solid mix of veterans and newcomers. Brian Kerwin has a Nick Nolte-esque air of male confusion about his graying boyish charm in the lead role of Dan Tilney. Monique Fowler is the very image of middle-aged allure as the charmingly inept owner of an antique shop who is falling for Tilney. Maureen Silliman is equally attractive as Dan's sister, Julia – the athletic tomboy all grown up.

If there's any error in the casting, it's in having Amanda Naughton playing a middle-aged woman who carries on an affair with Dan's college-aged son; Naughton doesn't appear to be any older than the women in their 20s.

Robert Morgan's set design is both clever and simple; outside of a few props, the set is created by projecting the scene – or a suggestion of a scene – onto a series of large, movable panels.

Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif.

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