Review: A Young Woman’s Quest for Love and Passion in Off-Broadway’s ‘Beloved’
By Megan Wrappe, Contributing Writer, August 9, 2018
Discovering how life works is what resonates the most in Lisa Langseth’s one-woman show Beloved, starring Ellinor DiLorenzo and directed by Kathy Curtiss. The play begins with the character Katarina rummaging around her grandmother’s cottage, putting things away and packing up a suitcase. As the lights come up, she begins telling her story involving ex-boyfriend, Mattias, a new beau, Adam, and how she found herself through Adam’s music. From what she says, Mattias is a typical man in his twenties who would rather “Netflix and chill” instead of actually going on proper dates, or really doing much of anything. After Katarina wins a radio contest which provides the prize of two tickets to the opera, she is transformed after seeing the glittering and elegant world—the dresses, the chandeliers, and of course, the music. The next day she quits her job working at a food court in the mall, then applies and lands a receptionist job at the opera. There she meets Adam, a married composer on the brink of the next big break in his career. At first the two are just friends, but as Katarina continues to listen to his music, they become more. This causes her to realize that perhaps Mattias isn’t her best match after all, and now must decide in which world she wishes to live.
With her witty sense of humor and ability to make everyone laugh, while adding in her relationship issues, she embodies a typical twenty-something woman. Her awakening to the world of opera is portrayed completely believably and realistically, considering this is still the time in one’s life when you are able to hold onto childhood nostalgia and believe dreams can come true.
The strength of playwright Lisa Langseth’s writing is her ability to present real life and draw the audience in. Beloved leaves the audience wanting to know more about all the various characters. What was the complexion of Katarina and Mattias’ relationship prior to her delving into opera? Why didn’t Mattias care where Katarina was until 2 a.m. every night? What is Katarina’s relationship with her grandmother, and why did she choose to seek refuge in her cottage? With so many unanswered questions there ‘s almost the need for a sequel.
One of the most remarkable aspects of this production of Beloved is the attention to visual details and conjuring imagery from the text. Given that the show is performed on one stage divvied up into smaller playing areas to represent various scenes, I actually visualized miniscule details in each scene just from the dialogue. For example, when Katarina talks about her job at the mall, I could actually see and smell the food court. And when she was in Adam’s rehearsal hearing the music, I could hear it too. It’s rare when a play is able to create such strong mental images, and it was a joy to follow Katarina’s journey in this way.
I left Beloved with a million questions, but instead of wanting to ask the playwright, I wanted to ask Katarina herself. I will be mulling over her experiences for quite some time, and will regard her journey as a learning experience, because as she says, she’s not quite done living yet and there is still a world out there to see.
Beloved presented by the Scandinavian American Theater Company at The Lion Theatre, 410 West 42nd Street, through August 18, 2018. Written by Lisa Langseth; translation by Charlotte Barslund. Directed by Kathy Curtiss; set and costume design by Lisa Renee Jordan; lighting design by Evan Kerr. Cast: Ellinor DiLorenzo.
Cover: Ellinor DiLorenzo in ‘Beloved;’ photo: Kait Ebinger.