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Loveseat Theater and Wordshed Productions Review: You're No One's Nothing Special Never Quite Catches Fire

August 15, 2003 - Chapel Hill, NC:


By staging small shows in intimate performance spaces, Loveseat Theater and Wordshed Productions are blazing a new (potentially exciting) trail in Triangle theater. I wish I could report that their inaugural short two-character production, You're No One's Nothing Special by Ann Marie Healy, was the best thing since sliced bread. Unfortunately, I cannot.

This offbeat script focuses on the ill-fated reunion of two married lovers, Chet (Julian "J" Chachula, Jr.) and Rhonda (Candice Churilla), who meet at a business seminar and have a torrid one-night stand. Rhonda and Chet immediately schedule a second clandestine rendezvous at a secluded resort near the Grand Canyon, quickly run out of small talk, and discover that they have almost nothing in common, except lust.

Although is moderately entertaining throughout, You're No One's Nothing Special never fully achieves its (modest) comic potential in the current Loveseat/Wordshed joint production. Whether you blame it on less-than-scintillating dialogue, or you blame it on static direction by Loveseat founder and artistic director Katja Hill, or you blame it on an increasingly irritating one-note performance by "J" Chachula, this laff riot never quite gets under way.

The overflow audience that packed in The Martha Nell Hardy Theater on the second floor of Bingham Hall on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was certainly primed and ready to have a good time. Unfortunately, You're No One's Nothing Special proved to be nothing special in the romantic-comedy department.

Candice Churilla was hilarious as Rhonda, a businesswoman terminally bored on the home front and therefore susceptible to the clumsy advances of Chet, a second-rate Romeo, if ever there was one. An unhappily married man with a depressed and difficult wife, Chet lets the little head do the thinking for the big head where Rhonda is concerned.

If You're No One's Nothing Special were one of those episodes of television's "Blind Date" in which the couple proves hopelessly incompatible from the get-go, there would be cute computer graphics to heighten the hilarity. No such luck here.

Churilla plays Rhonda as an eager-to-please, Pollyannaish refugee from a bad marriage; Chachula plays Chet as an insufferably earnest and increasingly boring guilt-ridden husband, tormented by second thoughts, who figuratively rains on any parade that Rhonda tries to start. Imagine a whole weekend of that.

Chachula, who is a fine comic actor, can do better. He can dig deeper into the quirks and foibles of his character. But maybe director Katja Hill wanted to contrast a stolid Chet with an effervescent Rhonda. If so, it deprives Chet of any residual romantic qualities that might explain why Rhonda would hop into bed for him in the first place. The premise of the play is that these two ill-suited lovers have nothing in common, except momentary passion, and that proves transitory when Rhonda and Chet shack up for an entire weekend.

Churilla is never less than charming and very, very funny as a nervous novice at adultery whose eagerly anticipated romantic weekend fizzles right from the start. You're No One's Nothing Special keeps going, but to little purpose. Forty-five minutes of You're No One's Nothing Special seems much, much longer than that.

Loveseat Theater and Wordshed Productions present You're No One's Nothing Special Friday-Saturday, Aug. 15-16, 8 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 17, 6 p.m. in The Martha Nell Hardy Theater (second floor), Bingham Hall, located between Cameron Ave. and South Rd., at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (NOTE: The theater is accessible to persons with disabilities.) $5. 919/969-7121 or wordshed@unc.edu. http://www.unc.edu/wordshed/.

 & letter 8/21/03 - FEEDBACK BY GREG HOHN Re: Robert W. McDowell's Review of You're No One's Nothing Special (Loveseat Theater and Wordshed Productions, Aug. 8-17)

Chapel Hill, NC, actor and Transactors Improv Co. director Greg Hohn writes:

Occasionally, I feel compelled to respond to reviews with which I heartily agree or disagree. Where You're No One's Nothing Special is concerned, I feel you really missed the point. The play isn't a romantic comedy at all. It's more like an anti-romantic comedy or, perhaps, a romantic tragedy. It really doesn't fit into a niche at all.

You're right about the lack of scintillating dialogue, but that IS the point. The play's about two run-of-the-mill, self-deluded wretches. I found the dialogue to be as stunningly real as anything I've ever encountered in the theater. Those two characters speak the way people really speak. There's no attempt to glorify them or their situation, and I feel the work does a fine job of holding up the mirror to the self-aggrandizement to which we're all occasionally prone.

Obviously, you're welcome to your opinion-hell, that's your job. But having read your raves about plays and productions that are conventional and safe and even tired and inane, I was disappointed that you didn't even get something that's really original and subtly daring.

So you share your opinion and I share my opinion about your opinion. What a great country, huh?