Lois Robbins’ “L.O.V.E.R.” begins with a woman climaxing atop a washing machine, setting the tone for the rest of the story. The middle-aged protagonist finds herself reminiscing at a retreat with two college friends, when a simple question sparks profound introspection and a deep delve into her past relationships, how she got here, and whether or not “here” is where she expected to be at this stage of life.
She takes us back to her childhood fascination with orgasms, of which she’s had plenty; a feat to be admired in an adult, let alone a kid. Her delivery is candid and funny; you like her immediately, a testament to Ms. Robbins’ vast comedic skills and ability to turn an awkward subject (kids having orgasms?) into a lighthearted romp. But it’s not all fun and games. Ms. Robbins contrasts the joys of her childhood activities with the somber reality of being raised in a home with parents who were too burned out to attend to the minutiae of raising their daughter, the youngest of three. She didn’t feel on par with her siblings, who got more attention, creating a dismal scenario to which almost anyone with siblings can relate.
But Ms. Robbins doesn’t linger there long enough for it to hurt; just as we get too close to her emotional accoutrements, she quickly changes the subject and introduces us to her high school crush, a beautiful and sensitive non-Jewish boy who doesn’t meet her father’s strict expectation for his daughter to date in the faith. Then we’re off to college, where the sexual escapades really begin and develop throughout her adulthood until she meets “the one,” gets married, and has children. But her joyful domestic stability is thrown for a loop when she discovers she has breast cancer. She survives it and learns a lesson no prior experience had taught her; that the most important relationship she will ever have is with herself.
Lois Robbins doesn’t skip a beat; her performance is flawless and charming from start to finish. Sonia Sebastian’s direction ensures that Ms. Robbins makes efficient use of the space and props; her movements are expansive but fluid, never gratuitous. The use of music and images projected on an upstage screen accentuate the performance and break up the monotony that might arise in such a long piece. However, the music during the mammography scene is discordant and takes much away from a poignant moment. And Ms. Robbins doesn’t quite pull off playing different characters; the production team might employ a prerecorded track to assist her during scenes that require another voice. Lastly, returning to her friends’ sex lives after the revelation of her experience with cancer seems misplaced and a bit awkward, like saying goodbye to your coworkers at the office holiday party, then riding down with them in the elevator.
But these are small hiccups in an otherwise fun bit of theatre. All in all, “L.O.V.E.R.” is entertaining, and a sufficient vehicle for Lois Robbins’ obvious talent. You may not leave feeling like you’ve had a life-changing experience, but you’ll definitely leave with a chuckle.
“L.O.V.E.R.” Written and Performed by Lois Robbins Sept. 16 at 2pm, and Sept. 24, 27, and 29 at 9pm Director: Sonia Sebastian Co-Producer: Racquel Lehrman Photo: courtesy of the production United Solo 2018 Theatre Row 410 West 42nd Street New York City
NADIA ASENCIO is a first-generation Cuban American playwright, artist, and founder of The Scarlet Harlot Theatre Co. which chronicles the journeys of Hispanic and Black women. Her work can be found at www.nadiaasencio.com. She resides in NYC.