By Christina Oddo
I decided to bring my 11-year-old sister to see “Savage/Love” Saturday night. As we sat in our seats waiting for the play to begin, we glanced through the pamphlet handed to us when we entered the theatre. My sister asked methe meaning of the word “savage.” Realizing she was referring to the title of Shepard’s play, I had to actually think for a few minutes, essentially trying to make sense of the strange pairing of the words “savage” and “love.” The title is quite oxymoronic. How could love, such a beautiful and natural concept, be compared, or even placed next to, such a brutal, corrupt image?
The unsettling nature of this coupling captures the true essence of “Savage/Love,” directed by Ali Keller ’12.Jeff Simkins ’13 and Emily Hooper ’14did an admirable job portraying a relationship that is fragmented, lacking and full of disappointment, frustration and misunderstanding.
Simkins and Hooper used their facial expressions and to strike the audience directly with heart-felt emotions. The passionproved the relationship onstage was far from ideal. Passion drove the play, and each word and interaction seemed dominated by inner emotions and deep, complicated understandings (or misunderstandings).
While the characters’ facial expressions made clear the barriers to communication within the relationship, the array of monologues allowed the audience witness these inner thoughts.
From the outset, the spoken wordsweaved the unsettling notion and the idea of “savagery” in relation to “love” throughout the play.
“When I first looked at you, I killed you,” Simkin’s character said in the middle of the play.
The characters throughout seemed to want to revisit the feelings they experienced when they first met.But the word “savage” takes on a different meaning as the lives of the characters progress.
“I wasn’t sure which one of us was killed,” Hooper said. The “murder without weapons” takes the word “savage” to the next level. Why are the characters still participating in a relationship that is essentially destroying the two involved? This is the question that most fascinated Keller before she decided to direct the piece.
Despite the sense of killing and the notion of murder, the two continue to experience a longing throughout the play. Who, or what, do they long for and ultimately love? I am “haunted by your hair, by your skin, when you’re not around. Am I dreaming you up?” Simkins’ character said at the end.
Love is evident, but for whom? Considering the characters say the same thing but in different beats during one of the most captivating and enthralling moments in the entire piece, they must find something in the other, some sort of love, whether most of it has deteriorated or not.
“We breathe the same way,” Hooper’s character said.
What is in the way, then? What is working against the two? Why are the two now “acting the partners in love”? This is where the word “savage” intrudes on the word “love.”
Needless to say, Hooper and Simkins truly captured the essence of a “savage” relationship, a “savage love.”