Zuppa Theatre’s Pop Up Love Party is a re-imagining of Plato’s Symposium, an analysis and merry toast to all forms of love, which are in perpetual conversation with one another and, in this play, competing for supremacy over one another as they are embodied by the Zuppa Theatre Collective of Sue Leblanc-Crawford, Ben Stone and Stewart Legere. The evening is a communal one at the very cool Lion and Bright Café, which combines delicious food and wine with an exuberant and heartful theatre.
This piece is very early in its process and needs some tighter shaping and focus and it seems like perhaps it might provide inspiration and insights that might morph the play into something completely different by the time it premieres here in Halifax in March, 2015. It is filled with potential and that is exciting, as developing new work and these newborn ideas have a specific magic that can be quite invigorating and captivating to watch.
The three performers give us speeches that are based on Plato’s text, but made personal and updated to suit our own time and they are compelling and poignant, funny, informative and thoughtful. There is a fun interlude featuring salty chocolates and plain yogurt (not mixed) and some musical stylings from Stewart Legere. These elements have the potential to be connected and intersected in an even more theatrical and thought provoking way- which I’m certain will be explored between now and March 2015.
I wanted to know why these theatre artists feel like we need to be reminded of the various facets of love, here in Halifax in the 21st Century. I wanted to know why we need to choose the truest definition or most compelling portrait of this love and why we must do it through Plato’s standards. I wasn’t sure what new ideas about love that Zuppa Theatre were bringing us to feast upon or what their commentary was on these ancient ideas of love and how or why we have dragged them with us through so much time. I also wanted to know what it was that Halifax needed to know specifically from Zuppa Theatre about love. Ben Stone and Stewart Legere often reprise their roles from their last show Tiny Vaudevilles as the ‘Aging, Fatherly Artist” and the “Young, Perhaps Usurping, Artist,’ which is always a funny gag, but I wanted there to be a stronger reason for why this dichotomy was imperative in Symposium and its musings of love.
As a party, this show brings people together in a lovely way and is quite entertaining, although as Zuppa Theatre’s contrition to the Magnetic North Theatre Festival I was a little disappointed that this show hasn’t yet found the Zuppa distinctive style, voice and theatricality that has been so imperative to their past work, so it is not an ideal introduction to Zuppa Theatre for Artists who are encountering them for the first time. It captures their love of process and their bravery and sense of silly wild abandon mixed with solemnity for sure, but I wonder if it would have been better for a National Festival to save the Love Party for 2015 and to remount an older show that really showcases the company at their finest.
The Pop Up Love Party played as part of the Magnetic North/ Stages Theatre Festival and has closed.