"War Stories" centers around four Los Angelenos whose lives unnervingly intersect, as our lives often do in this town.
The title is, of course, ironic, although to be fair many of us have experienced relationships that have left marks, both physically and emotionally, and I’m certain I am not the only person on this planet who is still a little shell shocked or a little burned by love.
This play seems to be more about the struggle of love than the battle, though. Our yearning to belong to someone can sometimes propel us to belong to anyone, rather than to be alone with ourselves. "War Stories" covers the moments when we realize that we have no idea what we are doing and panic.
It would be easier to write about two couples, compare their relationships and their faults, but Sarah Kelly takes another more interesting spin on love. Sam, a writer, played by the sweetly reticent Samuel Martin Lewis, falls for the gorgeous Chelsea, played by the lovely and highly talented Roxanne Jaeckel. Chelsea loves the ‘theory’ of a relationship with Sam, but restless, she is drawn to another. Jake is a classic L.A. actor type, all broody and self-absorbed and played with deft precision by Alexander Carroll. Clearly, all this is headed for disaster and, while Chelsea flip flops between the two of them, Jake falls hard and uses his weekly sessions with his therapist to deal with such unfamiliar feelings. The beguiling Sarah Kelly (also the playwright) plays Jake's therapist Jen, and just happens to be Sam’s best friend from college and is still in love with him, although the two have fully settled into the ‘friend zone’ and she has her own spiky relationship wth her fiancé to adjust to. In short, it's all a bit of a hot mess and we can all sympathize with that!
What I enjoyed most about this particular version of modern romantic melodrama was the lovely way the performances and the stories were arranged. Most of the show was performed as individual narrations to the audience, placed knowingly in between the interactions the actors have with each other during the scenes. Sometimes this kind of technique can seem stiff and repetitious, but "War Stories" and, more precisely, the actors themselves created such an instant intimacy, an immediate and soulful bond with the audience that their voices became like the voices in our heads. Sometimes regretful, sometimes hopeful, sometimes a little too honest, but always there. I found it a truly delightful way to include and involve us in each of the character's struggling story. And that bond it created allowed us all to really connect with their dilemmas and to really care who did what and why and to rejoice when what we all hoped for finally happened. But you’ll have to see the play to find out what I mean!
Samuel Martin Lewis, Roxanne Jaeckel. Credit: Lemon Melon Photography
I highly recommend “War Stories" at The Actors Workout Studio.
Another creative, engaging and heart-warming spent evening with a group of talented and inspiring actors, wonderful words and brilliant direction!
Written by Sarah Kelly
Directed by Stacy Ann Raposa
Alexander Carroll, Roxanne Jaeckel, Sarah Kelly & Samuel Martin Lewis
Phil Talsky - Stage Manager