Theatre UCF, part of the UCF School of Performing Arts, will present (a love story) by Kelly Lusk from Feb. 19-March 1 in the UCF Black Box. The new play was selected from readings at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s 2013 PlayFest!

Lusk wrote the play while completing his MFA in playwriting at Indiana University. The play centers around six characters who are in various stages of finding love. A three-person chorus helps narrate the story and plays supporting roles, including a twig, a sprout, and an ant.

Director Mark Routhier, who directed last year’s Theatre UCF production of Leveling Up, as well as The Best of Enemies at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater this fall, says (a love story) “starts sparkly and has delightful theatricality. Kelly [Lusk] has taken the idea of a Greek chorus and given it a contemporary edge. It’s not a realistic straight-ahead presentation; this is a world where animals and plants can talk. And while it is humorous, it isn’t a rom-com vision of love.”

Actor Eric Eichenlaub, an MFA Acting student, agrees with Routhier, saying that the play is not what one would expect from a typical love story.

“It’s a story about love, just not as you would expect it to be,” Eichenlaub says. “This is a play about people loving people to the best of their abilities. Loving their children as best they can, loving romantically as best as they can. Sometimes they succeed and sometimes they fail. But they are always trying.”

Eichenlaub hedges when asked if his character, Jack, is successful in loving. “This is a very difficult role. It’s hard with a character like Jack not to judge his actions or cast judgment on who he is. But I have to get past that and find what I can connect to. I’m lucky because Mark [Routhier] is great at helping his actors connect to their characters and Maddie [Tarbox, who plays Jack’s love interest] is a great scene partner.”
Scenic Designer Chris McKinney, who is in his final year in the BFA Design and Technology program, says he was almost overwhelmed when he first read the script. “How are we going to pull this off? This play is very complex with many different facets. Each character’s choices affect not only their immediate world, but the world around them. We had to design a set that reflects the fact that each character inhabits their own environment, but also reveals how they are all interrelated.”

Eichenlaub says (a love story) is ideal for a university setting, and UCF in particular. “You can’t get this show anywhere else. UCF’s partnership with the Shakes afforded us the ability to get access to a great new script. And we have the freedom to take chances, which is imperative in an academic setting. Not many theaters can take the risk of doing a play like this.”  

“From a structural, visual, and character standpoint, this is a vastly different show than you usually see on stage. This play is a conversation starter. It’s for people who have been in love for a long time, it’s for people who have never been in love. But everyone who comes will be able to find something to latch onto.”

Lusk will join Routhier for a post-show discussion on Thursday, Feb, 19. This play contains profanity, violence, and sexual situations, and is not suitable for young audiences.

Production at a glance:

(a love story)

Feb. 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, and 28 at 8 p.m.

Feb. 22 and March 1 at 2 p.m.

$20 standard, $18 senior, $10 student

Black Box, Theatre Building 6, 4000 Central Florida Blvd., Orlando