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“I’m not in love, but I’m going to fuck you/
‘Til somebody better comes along”
– Marilyn Manson, “User Friendly”, Mechanical Animals
When you get to be my age you start to realize why people stay in terrible relationships for so long. I mean yeah, there’s the whole social pressure thing of friends and family shaming you for being single (thankfully this seems to be dying out with successive generations); and yeah, there’s one’s own fear of dying alone that will keep them in a shitty coupling when they know they should, as Kanye put it, “run away fast as you can;” and yeah, there’s just a lack of common sense. But if I personally had to hone in one particular reason, it would have to be the one indisputable truth to which every single adult can attest: dating sucks.
It’s been two years since my last relationship ended. I wouldn’t call it “terrible,” but I’ve certainly called it “tumultuous”. Since it ended, I’ve had a couple of opportunities to start dating again, but I’ve let them slip by. The practical reasons usually had to do with my wanting to procure a full-time job and be more financially stable (I’ll be goddamned if I’m ever a deadbeat boyfriend); but a more sensible reason was that I really don’t want to jump into whirlpool that is dating at this age. I mean, maybe I’d have a better time if I lived in Iceland, but I don’t, so I’m putting off downloading any dating app for as long as I possibly can.
Vignettes on Love is a show about how much it sucks to be in adult relationships. It’s about the intersecting lives of six San Franciscans who – whether they know it or not – share professional connections, social connection, and sexual connections. The script by David Steele and Victoria Chong Der is reminiscent of several ‘90s indie films – not the really insightful ones like love jones or something from Jim Jarmusch, but the ones from Brad Anderson or professional dick-sandwich Neil Labute (in fact the concept is reminiscent of Joe Ezterhas’ original script for One Night Stand before it was rewritten by Mike Figgis). I didn’t like relationship films at the time because I was too young to know how relationships worked. Age has made me all the more jaded upon realizing just how complex they really can be.
Though the script doesn’t have anything new to say about relationships, it at least tries to say those things realistically. Believable performances by a cast who aren’t shy about showing off skin also works in the play’s favor. Still, the “multimedia” element of the production eventually becomes a distraction. Said multimedia only consists of back wall projections during transitions, accompanied by an admittedly-catchy soundtrack. But for a production that so heavily boasts itself as being more than a simple stage show, one would be disappointed that it wasn’t exactly Simon McBurney’s The Encounter (which was disappointing for being painfully dull).
What’s more, some of director Jim Klienmann’s choices – like ending every scene with a complete blackout – veer toward the confounding more than the creative.
Still, the show has the advantage of having a handful of sexy people doing sexy things on stage. The show won’t win any points for originality, but the cast make the best of the material they’ve been given. I realize that I’m posting this review late (especially since I saw it opening weekend), but if you just want to spend an hour-and-a-half watching half-naked San Franciscans chat about how love sucks, you could do much worse. Trust me.
Vignettes on Love is scheduled to run until the 30th of July at the Potrero Stage in San Francisco.
The show runs roughly 90 minutes with no intermission.
For tickets and information, please visit the production’s official site here.