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Theatre Review: 'Loveland' at Arena Stage

Ann Randolph in 'Loveland'
Teresa Wood



By Kyle Osborne

The last person in the world you’d want seated next to you on a plane from LA to Ohio is Frannie Potts. She’s the kind of overly-familiar chatterbox who makes time stand still. But don’t mistake her sensible sneakers and child-like demeanor for stupidity—there are deep, poignant thoughts going on between her headphones.

The beauty of Loveland is that we get to see the real person behind the characterture. Actress/writer Ann Randolph’s one woman play starts with Frannie stowing a suitcase in the overhead bin that contains a hilariously in appropriate surprise that will be revealed later. In the meantime, Frannie flits about, an ADD, rapid-fire assault on anyone within her range—from an unseen businessman, to an exasperated flight attendant, to remembrances of her mother—Randolph seamlessly transitions from one to the next, her posture and voice completely metamorphosing for each.

I feel that it would be unfair to disclose the details of Frannie’s life and her mother’s, because Randolph peels the layers back with such an elegant touch, that to zoom past her ‘reveals’ and go straight to some plot points would be ham-handed and spoil the poignancy that may well have you welling up at times.

Let’s just say that Frannie is unexpectedly horny, direct, and honest. And if you think it’s inappropriate to laugh at, say, a funeral, then you’ll need to loosen up before taking your seat. In fact, isn’t humor always close to the surface in times of sadness? It is in many people’s worlds, and it’s certainly a component of Frannie’s world.

The play is a tight 75 minutes, but stick around for a 25 minute workshop which immediately follows. Randolph comes back out to reveal that she wrote this play as a way of coping with the loss of her father, and she invites others to find creative outlets for their grief, too. She has dubbed it the “Good Grief Tour,” and it may be an oxymoron, but with Loveland, Randolph shows us first hand that something good can, indeed, be borne out of one’s grief. Something that’s laugh-out-loud funny, yet with a wistful undertone that may just make you wonder the next time you see a “Frannie” on your flight, “Gee, I wonder what she’s thinking about right now?”

Loveland plays through April 13, 2014 at Arena Stage-1101 6th Street, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call the box office at (202) 554-9066, or purchase them online.

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