Orange County Theatre Reviews

Written by Daniella Litvak 

If I had to come up with alternate title for Loose Ends, it would be Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House In The 70s. Paul and Susan fall in love on a beach in 1970’s Bali. The rest of the play follows them throughout the decade as they get married and experience relationship problems because Susan’s career clashes with Paul’s dreams. It’s a solid enough premise. 

(Left to Right) Bailey Castle as Susan and Joshua Johnson as Paul in Cal State Fullerton's Loose Ends Photo by Jordan Kubat

(Left to Right) Bailey Castle as Susan and Joshua Johnson as Paul in Cal State Fullerton’s Loose Ends Photo by Jordan Kubat

The problem with Paul and Susan is that their love for each other is never believable.  The actors have a better chemistry when they’re fighting with one another, but they’re still more tiresome than entertaining. The secondary characters are pointless. At their best, the secondary characters are living props the main characters can tell his/her problems to. At their worst, they’re unfunny caricatures delivering tangents that have no impact on the plot. I blame the story more than the actors. I give the actors credit for not phoning in their performances, but the cast isn’t strong enough to rise above the material.

On one or two occasions, the script is witty. Most of the time it’s a clunker.

Photo by Jordan Kubat

(Left to Right) Bailey Castle as Susan and Joshua Johnson as Paul in Cal State Fullerton’s Loose Ends Photo by Jordan Kubat

The other story related problem is structure. The play is divided into nine scenes with each scene representing a different year from the 70s. In between scenes the theater lights go dark, and the screens on the wall come alive to feature black and white clips of 70s events as well as photographs of a couple meant to be Paul and Susan while a 70s song plays. At first, this is a nice way to add atmosphere, invoking the feeling of traveling back in time. By the third or fourth time, it becomes annoying and disrupts the flow of the play.  

I’m baffled at why the play choose to depict these moments of Paul and Susan’s relationship. Every scene feels like it’s the aftermath of something: the aftermath of Paul and Susan reuniting after Bali, the aftermath of their decision to marry, the aftermath of their trial separation, and so on, which causes the play to commit the cardinal sin of telling instead of showing.

 All in all, Loose Ends is a dead end.

 3/10

Runs until April 26th 

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