Tuesday, May 15, 2018

"An Entomologist's Love Story" ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG

The plight of the male firefly. He flashes his light and waits for a female to respond. When she does, they mate. When they are done, he dies. In some cases, she eats him. What's a guy to do?

Lucas Verbrugghe plays entomologist Jeff. He shares an office with entomologist Betty, played by Lori Prince. They flashed their lights with each other for a semester when they were much younger. Now, they are just pals, though there is still some lightning between them, whether they admit it or not.

Enter Lindsay, exactly the kind of woman Betty has been telling Jeff he will someday fall for. Played by Jessica Lynn Carroll, Lindsay is young, innocent, pretty and has great legs. She needs Jeff to take a look at some suspected bedbugs. Their lights flash immediately, to Betty's dismay.

Betty, meanwhile, keeps seeking out the wrong kind of guy. When a real possibility opens up with Andy, played by Will Springhorn, Jr., she is conflicted. Should she? Shouldn't she? But Andy is a worker and Betty is an intellectual. Workers do not get to date the queen, in either the insect or human worlds.

Director Giovanna Sardelli has been with this show since it began at Theatreworks Silicon Valley, and it shows. She knows these characters. Melissa Ross's book is very funny and each actor brings something different to the table. Jeff is calm and looking for stability, Betty is a scientist who loves to solve everyone's problems except her own, Lindsay is smarter than her cuteness would suggest and Andy was just born on the wrong side of the tracks. He would probably be perfect for Betty, but it's never going to happen.

SF Playhouse's staging and sets are always as good as anyone's in the city, but Nina Ball outdoes herself this time with an office that turns into a park bench. The only caveat is that in the real America there are no thirty-five year old scientists who have offices that big. But this is the theater. We come to pretend.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division gives "An Entomologist's Love Story" Three Stars with a Bangle of Praise. It allows us to laugh at our own mating rituals, while offering a lot of heart and hope. If Melissa Ross ever decides to attack the class conflict between Andy and Betty this show could become deeper and more lasting. We love it like it is, but it might grow into something unforgettable.

"An Entomologist's Love Story"
San Francisco Playhouse
450 Post St., San Francisco
Second Floor of Kensington Park Hotel
Through June 23, 2018

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