Truth and Fiction: Stewart Lemoine’s The Many Loves of Irene Sloane, a guest 12thnight Fringe review by Todd Babiak

Stacey Grubb and Marissa Tordoff in The Many Loves of Irene Sloane. Photo by Russ Hewitt.

The Many Loves of Irene Sloane (Stage 12, Varscona Theatre)

“Chaos will yield to order,” says Irene Sloane, played by Marissa Tordoff. “Music always makes it so.”

In Stewart Lemoine’s universe, this is what music does. And for audiences, this is often the effect of Stewart Lemoine’s alterations on humanity: in his plays we are more thoughtful, more polite, more considerate, and more imaginative than in that other, less ordered world outside the theatre.

The Many Loves of Irene Sloane begins with an introductory book club meeting, where the majority of the members fail to read the book. Yet even in this familiar situation, the not-terribly-literary members speak with an impossibly elevated, self-aware vocabulary that makes us want to escape the like, um, uh, you know, polluted dialogue of the, like, real world?

Nick, played by Ed Picard, is the convenor of the disappointing club. Just when he is about to break it up for the evening, a surprise member arrives. Kristen, played by Jill Gamez, has not only read the book. She has brought her grandmother’s short, unfinished manuscript — The Many Loves of Irene Sloane — for her fellow book club members to read.

They do, and we see the play-within-a-play: Irene and her new amanuensis, the lively Lucette Sans Souci, played by Morgan McClelland, are interrupted by the mysterious Wolcott Smythe, played by Mark Facundo, who pursues Irene for the wrong reasons.

Kristen’s grandmother’s story is not satisfying to the book club members, but in anticipation of one line of dialogue from it haunting them forever they rewrite The Many Loves of Irene Sloane in front of us — with delight and gentle surprise.

Todd Babiak

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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