Ed Bullins' FOR YOUR LOVE...SUCKER! Miami Herald review (5/13) — Theatre review — AAPEX

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ed Bullins' FOR YOUR LOVE...SUCKER! Miami Herald review (5/13)

The cast includes, clockwise from top, Larry Robinson,
Stacey Morrison, André L. Gainey and Janet ‘Toni' Mason.

Prolific playwright Ed Bullins has had a singular artistic journey, from serving as minister of culture for the Black Panther Party in the 1960s to becoming a professor and distinguished artist in residence at Boston's Northeastern University.

Bullins also had an ambitious idea that August Wilson later embraced in his own way: He wanted to write a series of 20 plays, dubbed the ''Twentieth-Century Cycle,'' about the ways black Americans live their lives.

Wilson completed his own 10-play cycle before his death; the Obie Award-winning Bullins is still writing but has never drawn the widespread attention (not to mention Pulitzer Prizes and Broadway productions) that Wilson did, no doubt because he isn't the writer Wilson was.

Still, companies like Miami's African American Performing Arts Community Theatre (AAPACT) continue to find contemporary resonance in Bullins' vintage plays. The company has already produced his best-known work, The Taking of Miss Janie, and now it is taking a walk on the wild side with the playwright's For Your Love . . . Sucker!.

For Your Love has almost nothing to do with black politics, other than the sporadic pronouncements of a boldly drawn character called Count (Larry Robinson), the ganja-smoking ''landlord'' who oversees a quartet of illegal studio apartments carved from a larger building somewhere in the San Francisco Bay area.

The real subject of For Your Love, with its '80s references to then-emerging AIDS and that faddish dance known as the lambada, is sex. Crazy sex, obsessive sex, jealous sex: Bullins explores the passions that fuel fulfilling and foolish behavior.

His focal character is Arthur (André L. Gainey), a struggling freelance writer and novelist involved in a hot 'n' heavy romance with Renee (Janet ''Toni'' Mason), a San Francisco businesswoman. We learn, during breaks from the couple's torrid romps on Arthur's futon, that it took awhile for Renee to break off with her ex and give herself to Arthur. And it is also clear that Arthur's intrusive ex Lydia (Stacey Morrison) is far from being over him.
The play seems to speak to the AAPACT company's audience. Theatergoers hoot, react, talk back to the trouble-making Lydia and to sex-crazed Renee after she has a predictable lapse when Arthur jets off to a writers' conference in Texas. For Your Love is a little like a Tyler Perry play without the moralizing and the more deftly crafted laughs.

Truth be told, For Your Love -- the play and this production -- is something of a mess. Monologues interspersed with multicharacter scenes don't illuminate the speaker's character; instead, they reel off plot developments and simply cement scenes together. Characters behave in ways that seem extreme or incomprehensible, as when Renee -- who feels guilty but ostensibly loves Arthur -- dismisses his ability as a novelist.

The acting is decent, if often inaudible (except for Robinson, who projects so well that his fellow actors seem to be whispering), but director Teddy Harrell Jr. does nothing to counteract the script's messiness by keeping the libidinous action rolling along. Over and over, in fact, For Your Love screeches to a dead halt. But that final screech doesn't come soon enough.

Christine Dolen
Miami Herald theater critic.

To visit the AAPACT web site, please click the post's title.

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