Tricia Stiller/review: Parkland's 'Only You' a slice of life in all its messy glory

Tricia Stiller/review: Parkland's 'Only You' a slice of life in all its messy glory

William Shakespeare once said, "The course of true love never did run smooth." In Timothy Mason's "Only You," now playing at Parkland College Second Stage Theatre, that seems like a hideous understatement.

Mason's light romantic comedy, which is explored in the 27th annual student production, is nothing short of an obstacle course for the five clueless young adults in search of meaningful relationships.

Structured like a low-budget sitcom aired at the insomnia hour, "Only You" follows the romantic struggles of Leo, an anxiety-prone logofile (his key ring is a pocket thesaurus), and Miriam, a systems analyst with a Cinderella complex.

Add to the mix Leo's friend Eddie, an overconfident ladies man, and Heather, the hyper-caffeinated girl who adores him, along with Bo, the clinically depressed odd man out (with an emphasis on the odd), and you have the perfect recipe for ... well ... life, in all its messy glory.

Under the direction of Gennie Applebee, this production's vignettes were swiftly paced, thanks to the efforts of a hard-working running crew. Applebee allows her ensemble the freedom to explore the quirkier sides of the characters they portray, which resulted in a charming, endearingly clumsy comedy.

Mason's script, however, was superficial, relying on caricatures and sight gags, and punchlines that never actually packed a punch. Plenty of groans, sure, but not a whole lotta laughs, despite the efforts of the ensemble, many of whom were making their first appearance on the Parkland stage.

Matt Christman, in his first leading role, is appropriately awkward as Leo. Christman skillfully captures the insecurities of a man new to the game of romance. Maya Hammond, in her Parkland debut, is delightful as the complicated Miriam. Zoe Dunn, also in her Parkland debut, is a hoot as Heather, the coffee swilling screwball. Her caffeine habit presents itself in Tourettes-like outbursts that go relatively unnoticed by her accepting friends.

Jarrod Finn is taking his second trip across the stage, and he is convincing as the sad sack, Bo. Parker Evans, the only veteran actor in the ensemble, struts his stuff as Eddie, in what appeared to be a salute to the second captain of the Starship Enterprise, James T. Kirk.

Rounding out the cast was Wesley Bennett, who appears mostly off stage as the God-like voice in Leo's head.

I look forward to seeing the obvious talents of these young actors emerge through the training they receive at Parkland College.

I would be remiss if I didn't also offer kudos to the production's technical staff members, Julia Norris, assistant director and lighting designer; Remy Saymiknha, costume designer; Solomon Robinson, sound designer; and Kylie Moubry, set designer.

Tricia Stiller is the downtown division manager for Bloomington Community Development and is the artistic director for Bloomington's Summer Theatre Program.

Topics (2):Education, Theater

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jnorris. wrote on February 11, 2018 at 8:02 pm

Hello! Thank you very much for coming to see the show as well as the lovely review! :) I just wish to let you know that my name is Julia Norris, not Julie. As well that Matthew’s last name is Christman. Thank you. 

Niko Dugan wrote on February 11, 2018 at 10:02 pm
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Thanks for your comment. I've made those corrections.

Niko Dugan
online editor