Review: Kane Rep Streams Young Love, Adam Szymkowicz’s Emotional Story of Love in Two Parts

Screenshot from YouTube livestream of Young Love.

Young Love by internationally acclaimed playwright Adam Szymkowicz and directed by Daniil Krimer streamed live on YouTube October 7. Isabel Arraiza and Philip Stoddard star in the digital workshop, a part of the Kane Repertory Theatre’s fourth cycle of its New Play Lab series, which features a weekly reading of a work-in-progress play. Young Love will be available for viewing through October 11.

Young Love, a play in two parts, runs two hours, including a ten-minute intermission. The first part presents the lives of two students as they rehearse Romeo and Juliet in their high school classroom. The second part is set in a graveyard, chronicling the ups and downs of another couple over the course of 26 years.

Viewers become active in a satisfying unraveling of plot as the two stories become intertwined. There is so much life lived throughout the two plays. Time moves differently in both—in the first part, the audience sees Robert and Julie grow up as teens, and in the second, Ray and Jane develop over 26 years. Throughout the play, the audience is propelled by the investigation of different manifestations of love. The play was structured by Szymkowicz so that two actors would play all four roles, a ploy that successfully furthers the emotional investment in the characters.

Stoddard plays Robert, Romeo, and Ray, while Arraiza plays Julie, Juliet, and Jane. Confusing, I know. The two Juilliard graduates played their roles impeccably, smoothly transitioning between characters, and allowing the audience to catch up on their own time. Robert/ Ray is introspective, questioning life and love and all its in-betweens, a refreshing honesty and candidness from the lead male character. With the workshop process typically acting as a two-day affair with five hours of rehearsal, the actors, playwright, and director communicated impeccably well during current COVID-19 restrictions and presented a beautiful and emotionally striking play. As the parts begin to visibly intertwine to the viewer, the aspects of love, caring, and questioning the very meaning of life evoked goosebumps and perhaps even a tear or two. The play is sharp, well-acted, and heartfelt.

Szymkowicz’s plays have been produced worldwide. He was the premiere Resident Playwright at the Chance Theater in Anaheim, Calif., and the first playwright to participate in Bloomington Playwrights Projects’ Square One Series. He received a Playwright’s Diploma from the Juilliard School’s Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program and an MFA from Columbia University where he was the Dean’s Fellow. He has interviewed more than 1000 playwrights on his blog.

The New Play Lab provides a virtual rehearsal room to selected playwrights, connecting them with professional actors and inviting audiences to participate in their virtual readings through YouTube Live. During the initial live streaming, audience members are encouraged to engage in the live chat with comments or questions for the team. This gives viewers an opportunity to contribute to the creative workshop process during a post-read discussion.

Szymkowicz’s world premiere reading of Such Small Hands will be presented on October 14 followed by Ken Urban’s Danger and Opportunity on October 28.

The Kane Repertory Theatre’s production of Young Love will remain available for streaming on YouTube Live until 7:30pm on October 11. Live streams are free of charge with a suggested $25 donation, but any amount is appreciated.

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Katie Priest

Katie Priest recently returned home to Chicago after receiving her BA in English from the University of Washington in Seattle. She works for an environmental nonprofit where she writes and researches grants and manages social media for expanding agroforestry in developing countries. Katie is pursuing her long-time passion for reading and writing through the exploration and review of the arts with Third Coast Review.