Thursday, February 16, 2017

Valentine's plus Poetry = Lovers' Play

Alyssa Kay and Katherine Jett in When Love Speaks (John Ulman)
When Love Speaks
Thalia’s Umbrella
(at Taproot Theatre)
Through February 25, 2017

"Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?" Well? Should I? Don’t I get an answer? If you have ever read any poetry and felt like maybe someone should be there answering “Yes” or “No,” then you are thinking like David Wright. Wright was reading a lot of poetry and decided that some of it, particularly the love poetry, sounded like it should be conversations and scenes. So, he put dozens of poets together in piles of potential dialogue, with a large portion of Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Ben Jonson, and made a lovers’ play.

First presented in 1992 by Seattle Shakespeare Company, When Love Speaks is being remounted in a pleasant and amusing fashion by Thalia’s Umbrella at Taproot Theatre’s small new space. Four talented actors and a cute Dionysian helper become visitors to an island resort – the kind where love might be born, but lust is also sometimes disguised as love.

Christine Marie Brown and Terry Edward Moore start out by appearing as the most in-love couple ever, only to have Moore suddenly become quite the temporary lover. Katherine Jett, the most shy and abashed and funny, is perhaps hopelessly in love with Alyssa Kay, who doesn’t mind, but seems to be looking for someone a little assertive.

Poetry that you might know well and poetry that you might never have heard before is combined and wound into inventive moments of passion, persuasion or pique. Poetry inflames or confuses, entices or entreats. It is all the dialogue.

The director, Daniel Wilson, directed the initial presentation as well. He is supported by a wonderful set design by Roberta Russell, who also lights the stage. She has created a light wood deck with airy curtain openings that invite you to step outdoors to sit near the water and drink and woo. Kelsey Rogers’ colorful costumes continue the beachy resort feeling.

If you’re looking for something romantic for Valentine’s week or month, this 90 minute production might be just the after-dinner romp. Thalia’s Umbrella is also partnering with various additional local poets who will present a few minutes of their own contemporary love poetry after the production is done.

For more information, go to or call 800-838-3006.

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