love-overboard_web.jpgWelcome to the S.S. Love Happiness, an all-black cruise line with a lot of unhappiness.

That should be the logline of the play that calls itself Love Overboard.  Not to say that the ship’s storylines are oh so dramatic.  They’re not.  They’re not oh so serious, either. 
No, no.  Love Overboard is a Tyler Perry-esque play about eight people, in different stages of relationship meltdown.

Love Overboard, which docked at the James L. Knight Center in Miami on March 20 and 21, is about a cruise trip taken by eight men and women who seek to get away from their current and former significant others.

Leah (played by Rhona Bennett) is celebrating her 30th birthday.  Her friend, Tina (Karen Malina White), is trying to help Leah lose her virginity.  Russell (Khalil Kain) is still trying to get over his ex-wife, five years after their divorce.

Patrice (Opal Staples) is trying to get away to have some time to herself.  Angelo (Avant) is looking for a sex partner. Gerald (Carl Payne) is trying to remain faithful to his wife and keep Malina (Vianessa Castanos) from seducing him.  Big Daddy and his stripper girlfriend (K. Michelle Jenrette) are trying to rekindle the flame in their relationship.

Rounding out the cast are the bartender, played with excellent comedic timing by Miguel Nunez and Captain Jacob Large, played by sexy Samson Logan.

The storylines have great potential, but there may have been four too many.  Not much time was taken to delve deeper into the characters themselves.  Writer/director Je’Caryous Johnson gives brief glances into the lives of the characters and puts their personalities in the face of the audience, so they don’t feel they’ve totally missed something.

But I would have liked to know more about the characters and find out what they did when they stepped off the cruise ship in the end.

Then again, the concept is the genius of Johnson.  If he decides to make a sequel to Love Overboard, I’m going to want to see it because I want to know more about the characters.

The characters as a whole were great, but none of the performances really stuck out as being the best.  Each actor gave his/her all.  Besides, I witnessed the show half way through its national tour, so all the lines, blocking, and facial expressions are already second nature to the actors. 

Speaking of characters, my favorite is Tina, I’m always a fan of loud mouths.  They’re the ones who tell you the truth.  I like truth and honesty.  Tina tells it like it is, and isn’t afraid to tell you what’s going on in the deep, dark reaches of her mind.  Her story is tragic, but she tells it so eloquently, it’s almost bittersweet.  My applause goes to Johnson for writing so expressively. 

My favorite male character is the captain.  Logan, the actor, has a little something extra that most would call charisma.  He is giving Christian Keys, one of my longtime favorite theater actors, some much-needed competition.  I fell for Logan before I knew he could sing so well.  Now, I have two great theater actors to drool over. 

Now, you know me, I am going to tell it like it is.  Act Two of the play was much better than Act One, because the sound was terrible.  The actors’ voices were bouncing every which way, and I kept missing all the good jokes.  Also, some of the actors were running through their lines so quickly that I missed some key plot points.  But, after intermission,
Johnson must have rallied his actors and gotten them moving on the right track.  I’m glad he did.  It saved the play from an all-out bad review.  The bad seating that I endured, however, did not help the play in my book, either.

The essence of this review is that Love Overboard, with its characters who need more depth and its great vocalists like Avant, Staples and Bennett, is still a great play to watch. 
It’s got great lines, courtesy of Russell.  I will leave you with my favorite line: “Marriage is not about what you’re getting; it’s about what you’re giving.”

I look forward to seeing what else Johnson has in store.

KAliciaG@Aol.com

Photo: Cast members of Love Overboard perform at the James L. Knight Center in Miami.



IF YOU GO:

WHAT: Love Overboard

WHEN: Through May 10

WHERE: Various venues from Portsmouth, Va. to Houston, Tx.

COST: $32.50

CONTACT: Go to www.imreadyproductions.com for more information on tour dates and venues. To purchase tickets go to www.ticketmaster.com.