Writer: Justin Sayre
Director: Matthu Placek
Reviewer: Adrienne Sowers
Wishes for love adorn the walls of The Club at La MaMa, scrawled by the audience and shoved into nooks and crannies between bricks as they wait in anticipation of Justin Sayre’s dazzling solo play, Love’s Refrain: A Confession. Surrounded by these hopes, Sayre takes the audience on a journey through the stars, and into the impossible miracle that is love.
Performing an original text, Sayre displays deft specificity and palpable vulnerability as he draws the parallel between the life cycle of stars and of the universe, to the winding, challenging road of understanding and experiencing love. References to Shakespeare mingle with memories of childhood and detailed descriptions of astronomical phenomena, yet the greatest phenomenon of all is Sayre’s shining performance. He is nothing short of captivating.
Surrounded by the audience and illuminated by vintage and Edison light bulbs hung low over the space, Sayre sweeps throughout the room in a ball gown adorned with sapphire beads, echoing the universe in which he tells his story. Complex and poetic turns of phrase that in the hands of a lesser actor may feel schmaltzy ring so evocatively true in Sayre’s performance that one forgets people don’t actually talk like that—though perhaps we should. Coupled with snappy one-liners that enhance rather than undermine the all-encompassing depth of Sayre’s text, these celestial metaphors and Shakespearean references interweave and feel like the universe’s embrace, all contained within the theatre.
It is impossible to leave La MaMa without being altered by Sayre’s brilliant work. Upon leaving the building, one cannot help but gaze at the night sky and feel a deep connection to the stars and the possibility of the impossible.
Runs until 10 April 2016 | Image: Contributed