Big Love: An Orgy of Blood and Anger

Big Love at CUA

Big Love at CUA

By Maria Rodriguez

The Catholic University of America’s Department of Drama premiered Charles Mee’s Big Love at the Hartke Theater Thursday night to much applause.

Themes of the play were not shrouded in the intense imagery or lost in oblique phrasing. It was smashed over your head with a hammer, a knife, and an axe. And they were all covered in blood. The director earnestly tried to give a platform to all opinions and worldviews present on the stage; of which there were too many. Love is freedom, love is force, love is understanding. There were so many opinions, it was hard to follow a dominant one.

The story follows 50 brides who are pledged to be wed to their 50 cousins. There are three main sisters and three main cousins, each representative of their respective cohort of siblings.

The girls don’t wanna marry the boys, but each for different reasons. Thyona, Ellie Blakeslee, a sophomore Theater major, is a stereotypical militant feminist and her reason for it isn’t hidden by a murky childhood backstory. She’s engaged to the evil Constantine, played to villanous heights by Ryan Marcinkowski, a sophomore Mechanical Engineering major.

They represent the most extreme views onstage, but by no means hold the monopoly on passionate monologues spoken with intense lights and pounding on the stage. There’s a girly-girl sister, who represents the feminine sort of strong woman. There’s an over-the top gay guy who’s played as a barbie-collecting, man-child present on the stage only for laughs and a “don’t forget equal marriage” appearance.

It’s just that there are so many things going on.

But that’s part of the appeal. Big Love features tomato-smashing, on onstage bathtub, and clothes tossing all across stage. The highlight of the night is a red-wedding (literally) scene in which grooms are killed, blood is shed, and chocolate syrup is everywhere. There’s even some cake smashing involved- it is a wedding after all.

Visually stimulating, if ideologically confusing, the play is a must-see.

Big Love runs tonight, Friday November 20 and Saturday 21 at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, November 21-22 at 2 p.m.

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