Relationships are like bookmarks for the book called our life — sometimes they are memorable, but most of the time they are not. You forget them or, more importantly, forget the feelings they generated for you at the moment. A passion fling that at the moment seemed like everything in the world could easily become a joke between friends a few years down the line. But you never forget they were there. They stay with you and you can always find it in your memory that you once had it. And the effects of them in your environment is always of change. They change things. There’s something about being with somebody that helps you expand your mind, for better or for worse. “Mechanics of Love,” playing at the Paradise Factory, is a play willing to delve into the machinations of these emotions in the hopes of coming up with an answer through a plot as absurdist as the idea of understanding love itself. It’s a hard task, but not one that writer Dipika Guha shies away from in this hilarious romantic comedy.
So how does she set herself to explore the mechanism that makes us fall in love? By following a man that marries a ballerina with an artificial spine who then falls in love with his wife, and then moves in with the mechanic, then finds herself while the mechanic is now with the other guy’s wife… and the guy, well he is trying to understand how he almost ended up alone and hasn’t forgotten any of this. Can you follow? It’s a lot easier when you watch it, which is a testament to Dipika’s writing, and the incredible cast and director that put it together.
While the writing is very clean, and in no way loses you through the intricacies of this heightened romance, it is the cast that can easily mask the flaws on the writing. Their charm is apparent, their chemistry is scintillating, and they all look like they are having so much fun. It’s all too easy for us to get lost with them. Of the four of them, Victoria Frings is the stand out, making a cliche, overbearing character into one you can easily fall in love with. Not to take away from Eric T. Miller, Anastasia Olowin or Sathya Sirdharan, who all did a terrific job, but Victoria did something not many actors can do and it is to make that kind of character into the favorite. By the end when the plot has turned so ridiculous that you are about to tune out, it is her who brings you back in.
Like I said, the writing is good, the play is funny, yet it doesn’t feel like the masterpiece it should feel like. While the dialogue has this poetic rhythm to it that’s engaging, the characters are ideas turned into people that never become real to the audience. Their life is based on an absurd reality, but they are just absurd. If it wasn’t for the actors, I don’t think the production would have been as charming. The casting director should be very proud. Another problem I had with it was the fact that new themes would be presented and not really followed through. Class and masculinity are often brought up but it never really goes anywhere. Moments are talked about but never connected. Yet, that barely hindered the evening for me, I still had a lot of fun watching it. Because in its essence, it is as crazy as falling in love and trying to make sense of it, and that’s what it needs to be.
“Mechanics of Love” is an absurdist romantic comedy which falls short of greatness but still gives you a perfect option for a date night. The things that work, work and the ones that don’t will not take away from the laughs and the heartfelt moments. I will recommend if you are looking for a fun date, get yourself to the Paradise Factory and watch it. It will be performing there until September 24th.
Out of four stars:
Twisted Talk: When’s the last time you saw a romantic comedy? Have you seen this production? Discuss below!