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Kelly Aliano

The Music of Love

"Something's Got Ahold of My Heart"
January 10 to January 20, 2013
La MaMa (First Floor Theater),
74a East 4th Street (between Bowery and Second Ave)
Created by Hand2Mouth
Thurs-Sat @ 7:30 PM, Sundays at 2:30 PM.
$18 general admission;
Box office (212) 475-7710, www.lamama.org
Reviewed by Kelly Aliano January 11, 2013

Hand2Mouth Theatre in "Something's Got Ahold of my Heart." L-R: Maesie Speer, Liz Hayden, Faith Helma, Matthew Dieckman, Erin Leddy and Julie Hammond. Photo by Lee Wexler/Images for Innovation.

“Do you believe in love?” These were the first words I heard upon entering the First Floor Theater at LaMaMa. From just this short query, two things immediately became clear: one, the audience would somehow be an active part of the world of this play; and two, that matters of the heart would likely be the central theme. On both of these counts, the play did not disappoint. “Something’s Got Ahold of My Heart,” Hand2Mouth’s current creation at LaMaMa, charmingly engages its audience on the theme of love. However, to a large degree, the production is not quite a sum of all of its parts; individual moments of the play are delightful, but the overall effect is hard to ascertain, as much of the content appears unrelated or disconnected.

There is no plot per se to “Something’s Got Ahold of My Heart.” Rather, the play is made up of a series of scenes, all performed by the same six ensemble members, but in different roles. Each scene is loosely or specifically about relationships, most commonly either their beginnings or their endings. The focus is often on two performers—portraying a particular couple, often about whom the audience knows little to nothing—while other members of the company interrogate them, asking things like: “What was the last thing you said to him?” or “How did that make you feel?” The other players also often give those on whom attention is turned certain instructions of what actions to perform.

L-R: Faith Helma and Erin Leddy. In the background, Maesie Speer and Liz Hayden. Photo by Adele Bossard.

Indeed, physicality is a key aspect of the world of the play, but unfortunately, it is also perhaps the play’s weakest element. All of the performers are quite funny with their text, blending the appropriate levels of humor and pathos into the vignettes being presented. However, when aspects of the stories are meant to be told through the body, it is often difficult to follow what is meant to be happening on stage. The precision of the text does not carry through to the gestures and positions of the physicality, making it seem at times random. There is also a lot of on-stage business: the picking up of props and the donning or taking off of costume items, as well as the moving of set pieces. Although the aesthetic of the production matches the youthful spirit of the performers, all of this on stage activity can be distracting. Despite this, the energy of the performers remains high throughout, keeping the audience engaged.

The audience has an important role to play in this performance as well. The actors do interact with the spectators, turning dialogue or questions directly to them, even if they are not meant to respond. This fourth-wall breaking style serves the performance best in its final sequence, which is more rock concert than drama. The music is the finest part of this production; I found I was laughing the hardest at the song lyric references and most attentive during the sung sections. In terms of theme, nowhere was the discussion of love more relatable or profound. This company highlights the ways in which music is such an important aspect of how love is performed and understood in our culture. This is perhaps the most meaningful aspect of this show.

“Something’s Got Ahold of My Heart” is at times great fun to watch. If someone is looking for a fun way to pass an evening, this may be the show for that person. While being entertained, that individual will be asked to contemplate their memories and ideas about love, thoughts certainly worth engaging in. Even if the overall is a bit uneven, there are wonderful moments in this production. And, if nothing else, the music is worthy of love.

L-R: Faith Helma and Erin Leddy. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

TITLE: Something's Got Ahold of My Heart
Created by: Hand2Mouth
Director: Jonathan Walters
Performer/Creators: Matthew Dieckman, Julie Hammond, Liz Hayden, Faith
Helma, Erin Leddy, Maesie Spear
Drummer: Matt Bogdanow
Stage Manager: Marissa Blankier
Lighting Designer & Production Manager: Christopher Kuhl
Scenic Designer: Jeff Becker
Composer: Ash Black Bufflo
Sound Designer & Imagineer: Casi Pacillo
Music Director: Faith Helma
Costume Design: Kate Fenker
Dramaturg: Jessie Drake
Collaborating Writer & Assistant Dramaturg: Sarah Gancher
Creative Lighting Support: Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew

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