“This Is Not What I Ordered” delivered a performance that resembled the hopelessly desperate and passionately clumsy world of romance. Written by Stephen Fife and directed in Citrus College’s Little Theatre by Neil Weiss, the six short plays hilariously captured the lovesick night owls that take residence at a bar/restaurant.
Set in present day Los Angeles night scene, each short presents characters’ emotionally paralyzed pursuit for love. These characters range from pathetic, dramatic, sexual, judgmental and fearful bar stool warmers that usually avoid taking any action in their love lives. When pushed out of their fragile comfort zones, these characters either strikeout, make a love connection or found their own voice.
The music and staging is vital to the playful and comic tone of the play. The retro room dividers and spinning platform helped seamless transition from each short into the next. Each scene received its own mood-setting tune, allowing the audience to remain engaged with the cast.
The play’s overall comedic timing and emotional intensity, through Weiss’ excellent direction, allowed the audience to connect/identify with these love-phobic characters’ struggles.
Each short gave actors a moment to hold their own on stage. The audience was charmed by the loveable and clumsy dynamics in “White Russian,” surprised by the passionate and vulnerable characters in “Mr. Lucky’s,” in suspense for reunited lovers in “Changing the World,” lastly inspired by the call to action in finding love in “The Gal in the Chinese Fast Food Joint.” Two shorts that stood out as the most animated and relatable were “War of Nerves” and “The Mood.”
The powerhouse Jade Yancosky, as Melanie, explains her misguided love strategy with the audience in “War of Nerves.” Yancosky captures the false confidence of her character that tries to be proactive in her search for love, but ironically waits to be approached by her dream guy.
The theme of the challenging nature of love is exceptionally depicted in the third short “The Mood.” The sassy Chelsea Barron, as Linda, shines as a sexually/emotionally frustrated lover who confronts her controlling and self-serving partner Stuart, played by Robert Martinez.
The couple seated across from one another over dinner, attempting to re-spark their sexual flame, is hot and hilarious. Reaching her boiling point, Barron finally calls Robert out on his particular and uncommitted mentality. Barron is perfection as the underdog character that ultimately chooses self-love and over an unsatisfying relationship.
Kudos to the cast and crew for recreating the spontaneous and nerve-wrenching experience of searching for love, typically with a drink in one hand and insecurity in the other.