Photo by Mike Timmins
Photo by Mike Timmins

The Blue Room Theatre

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Because of its incredibly long title, I’ve been referring to Those Who Fall In Love Like Anchors Dropped Upon The Ocean Floor by Finnegan Kruckemeyer as “the Love Anchor show.” It makes me wonder how the cast and crew have been referring to it amongst themselves, since titles of shows often get truncated in green room conversation; Phantom of the Opera becomes “Phantom,” A Streetcar Named Desire becomes just “Streetcar.” But which word did they hang onto as they were working on this little piece?

There are a few different storylines that dovetail and overlap in Kruckemeyer’s work, each one funny, sweet and a little bit awkward in its own way. Director Adam Mitchell has woven these stories in and out quite effectively in his staging, with help from designers India Mehta (set) and Chris Donnelly (lighting). Mehta’s set is basically a booth that can be rotated, with a circular portal so that we can see the actors no matter which way the booth is turned. Behind it is a screen which serves as a cyclorama that glows with a different aura of light depending on the scene.

Five main specific locations are alluded to: a watchmaker’s shop on a Paris street, a Russian submarine, a Chinese restaurant, a snowy Appalachian field, and a single woman’s apartment. Three actors, Renee Newman-Storen, Ben Mortley and Jo Morris, cycle through several different characters in each of these scenes, donning different hats and accents like quick-change artists. Through these revolving scenes and characters, we explore how people fall in love despite and because of fate, time, missed opportunities, chance encounters, patience and impulsiveness. Sometimes love succeeds, sometimes love fails, but there’s always a story to be told.

Ben Mortley’s performance anchors the piece; he’s calm, cool and collected and gives an open, genuine performance. In one monologue in particular, his character tries to convince a weary blind date (Newman-Storen) to give him another chance; this revealing moment comes off effortlessly, with sincerity. Morris takes a slightly more heightened approach in her interpretation with one character in particular: her exaggerated Southern accent makes some of her dialogue indecipherable to my Southern ears, but it seems to get laughs from the audience. Newman-Storen is steady and consistent, and has crackling comic rapport with Mortley in the restaurant scenes.

This would be a great show for a date night, as it moves around in territory that would be familiar to most people who have ever fallen in love, for better or worse. It also has a definite cinematic quality and could easily be expanded and adapted for film, a la Love, Actually but with the style, quirkiness and panache of Amelie. But in its current theatrical format, this is an enjoyable assortment of whimsical musings on love, time, chance, false starts and new beginnings.