YOU'RE MY FAVORITE KIND OF PRETTY
at the Southern Theater through March 9
Jon Ferguson directs this collaborative show about young romantic love, and it tackles those things near and dear with consistent wit and lighthearted aplomb. In the early action we meet Heathcliff (Ferguson), a bit of a sad sack with a handful of arrows and a bow. He tries to hunt down some fluffy bunnies (provided by Jim Hibbeler, along with, before we're done, shadow puppets, a miniature train, and a moon that looms over the action). Next we meet Miranda (Sara Richardson), dressed at first in a pink bathrobe and bunny slippers, who climbs atop her miniature house and sings an off-key ode to the moon, which appears high above but is voiced on the floor by Jason Ballweber (who also plays Fate, a goofy French waiter, and daft neighbor Gladys). Turns out Miranda and the moon have been an item, but it's time for her to initiate a this-isn't-working-out conversation. Once Miranda meets Heathcliff, though, she's ready to climb back on the love train, only there's a catch: Heathcliff can't handle his girl having a metaphor for an ex-lover, so he packs up his demons and heads out into the wider world (where he unwittingly murders a pair of rabbits, orphaning their son, who vows revenge). When our lovers are finally reunited, they face a foe familiar to so many: the crushing monotony of days, and the difficulty of maintaining passion for someone who has become part of life's numbing routine. Yet nothing onstage here is numbing in the slightest. All our serious romantic baggage—jealousy, fear, and flagging lust—are defused by silliness and a sweet sense that things are going to turn out all right. It's a physical work, with lots of silly-ass dancing, visual wit, and consistent liveliness (Ballweber ruthlessly steals a huge share of laughs, leaning on slapstick, absurdity, and large-voiced subversion). By the end we even enjoy an homage to parenthood and its giddy, nervous charms. It's to this collaboration's credit that it serves up comedy with a serious heart and dares to look at romance with innocence, freshness, and no small helping of desire.