Upstart Productions’ “Love/Sick,” a show with nine short plays written by John Cariani that explore romantic relationships from first meeting and dating to disillusionment and divorce, opens this weekend at the Mind Museum Auditorium in Bonifacio Global City and runs until Aug. 20.
Artistic director Joel Trinidad directs, helming a cast that performs double or triple roles each to thresh out 18 different characters. Among them is Rachel Alejandro, who has been friends with Trinidad since they were cast together in Musical Theater Philippines’ “Alikabok” in the mid-’90s.
“But it wasn’t until we did ‘Avenue Q’ (for Atlantis Productions, now Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group) that we became close,” says Alejandro.
“We’ve been talking about doing more shows together and possibly producing them ourselves for quite some time. ‘Love/Sick’ is the result.”
Strange and surreal
It’s serendipity that Trinidad chose to mount this play, since it’s billed as “a darker cousin” to Cariani’s earlier play “Almost, Maine,” which was staged early this year by Repertory Philippines.
In a YouTube video of Trinidad’s meeting with Cariani in New York earlier this year, the playwright jokes that “Love is a serious mental disease, remember that when you watch ‘Love/Sick.’”
In previous interviews, Cariani acknowledged that his work has been described as an “unromantic comedy for imperfect lovers and dreamers.”
“It’s set in an alternate… reality. You’ll meet people… who may believe in love but they’re terrified it won’t last. You’ll meet people diagnosed with obsessive-impulsive (sic) disorder, a woman who has cold feet on her wedding day, a couple who are so busy they forgot to have a baby, and a bunch of others.
“[The play] should feel like a realistic and naturalistic play, until it’s not. Everything is strange and surreal and absolutely not normal.”
Despite the quirky description, Alejandro says she was struck by the play’s “sincerity and raw emotional power and its unexpectedly light comedic touch. It’s rare enough for something to be so real and true, but, somehow, this show is funny as well!”
Alejandro played the Witch in Upstart’s production of “Into the Woods” last year. Joining her in the “Love/Sick” cast are Teenee Chan, Mica Pineda, Nicky Triviño, Noel Rayos, Bibo Reyes, Onyl Torres and Trinidad.
“It’s a mini-reunion for us because Joel, Teenee, Bibo and Noel were all my cast mates in ‘Avenue Q,’ and the rest were my cast mates in ‘Into the Woods.’”
While Alejandro has been in numerous musicals, this is only her second play. “The first one I did was in the early 2000s. It’s really a challenge because there is so much more to memorize. I find singing and dancing a lot easier because those are what I have been doing in the past.”
Even more challenging, she’s tasked to play three different characters. “What I have to find is how to make the three roles distinct and still be true to my objective in each story.”
In addition to acting duties, she’s also coproducing the run. “Audiences are going to be surprised and delighted by the show,” says Alejandro. “I know I was.”
Upstart Productions’ previous productions include “SOS: Showcase of Original Shorts,” “Forbidden Broadway” and “Much Ado About Nothing.” “Love/Sick’s” set and costume design are by Clarisse Co and lighting design by Daniel Cortezano.
“Love/Sick” runs Aug. 5 to 20 at Mind Museum Auditorium, Mind Museum, 3rd Ave., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Contact 0917-8116516 or [email protected] Visit UpstartProductionsInc.com/Fb.com/Upstart.Prod.