Cory Conleys new play "The More Loving One", has crafted less of a story following four characters and more of a discussion on our approach to love, our loss of control or even rationality when faced with love. One feels in some moments transported to a lecture hall during a philosophy symposium where ideas are floated and formed into a debate. But then we are on a college campus, with a late twenty-somethings couple, the husband being a science professor and the wife a multi-media artist, and with the husband as a central witness in the middle of an underage sex trial, theres opprobrium in the air. As an investigation into what we accept as lawful love and unlawful love, Mr. Conley has crafted a passable piece of theater for the ages, albeit disjointed and muddied on occasion. The husband Matt, and wife Lauren, discuss the trial, and at times bicker about the nature of Matts friendship with the professor charged with underage sex, thus revealing their own disconnections and uncertainties in their marriage - It seemed odd when Matt offers Lauren a beer, and then remembers she only drinks spritzers, but maybe this suggests he pays less attention to her than he realizes. Matt believes hes a "21st century man", Lauren doesnt seem so convinced. She after all "feels bad for Jerry", the professor in question, which sends Matt into a dizzying outrage. You cant help wonder what this will all lead to? Why the argument has been set up in this way? What are the implications? Sadly the pay-off is more prosaic than poetic. And as the debate of underage sex heats up, they are joined by Henry, the partner to Heinrich, their gay roommate, who we learn has been with Heinrich for four years, "almost as long as us", claims Matt. And because Matt has "had a shitty day", and wants to continue the argument, his behavior unfolds into the oppressive, in that he insists on having Heinrich and Henry listen while he delivers his version of love, "people write songs and cut off body parts". He then over-compensates to prove his pro-gay coolness factor by telling the guys that the best writers are gay, and asks them to name their favorite writers. They do, naming several who are all hetrosexual. It seems that Matts a 20th century man struggling to join the 21st century. As for Henry and Heinrich the most they have to contend with is a marriage proposal. Which isnt really that bad. Henry indulges his own paranoia and uncertainties by making Heinrich do mental gymnastics into explaining his love for him. Which as a defense mechanism is understandable, but its not a great piece of drama or bold artifice. There are several delicious lines in this play, and the character conceits of the oppressive, loquacious Matt and the dry, superiority of Heinrich played with elegant, casual assertiveness by Jimmy Davis, have great entertainment value. In the end what Mr. Conley conveys with "The More Loving One", taken from the W.H. Auden poem, is some of us love harder, commit ourselves more desperately to our chosen partners than what can be reciprocated. As a theme I find this fascinating. With this play, the final execution leaves more to be loved.
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