Review: february: a love story.

by Lynn on February 26, 2021

in The Passionate Playgoer

Streaming until March 7.

Created and performed by Ellen Denny and Emilio Vieira

Directed by Mairi Babb

The ‘audience’ is checked in by a friendly, masked woman who reads a series of questions from a clipboard to see that all is in order:

“Do you suffer from loneliness? Fatigue? Existential dread? Longing for live theatre?

Have you been exposed to any confusing health regulations and or conspiracy theories?” She makes a check after each question after looking at the person to whom she is asking the questions.

Hilarious! A wonderful way to begin.

Then the friendly woman guides the ‘audience’ to a bench, over the back of which is a blanket for warmth and a thermos of hot chocolate. The bench is in a courtyard of a building. It’s winter. There is snow on the ground.

Since this is a love story in the time of COVID, everything is tipped on its ear. The title, february: a love story is in lower case. The characters are known as “Her” and “Him.”

It’s created and performed by Ellen Denny who plays “Her” and Emilio Vieira who plays “Him”.

The couple, Her and Him, met at a party when parties were acceptable. Now they are on their first COVID date. He wants companionship. He spends his time taking care of his aged, fragile father. She wants sex. Her boyfriend broke up with her and she wants a rebound person to have sex with. He’s charming (‘Him’ is charming, not the boyfriend). She’s smarmy and brittle. He is physically distant, being very careful about safety protocols. She is emotionally distant.

They meet outside in winter,   adhering to keeping a proper distance. He suggests a game of Baci and he’s brought the Baci balls. (this is the Italian ‘ball’ game that elderly Italian men play on grass.) She thinks he means “Winter Baci” which in the urban dictionary means something sexual. (I get such an education from the theatre and Google). They navigate that misunderstanding and wrangle and tease and argue and confide secrets.

On that first date she suggests they go back to her apartment to put some Bailey’s in the hot chocolate he brought for them both. Sex, not Bailey’s is the intention. She wants to “hook up.” He says, in the kindest of ways, that he can ‘t do that. He says he has not touched another person (except his father) for 11 months. (A line that makes you ache and suck air.) We really get a sense of how the pandemic has affected them being in isolation, physically distant and so yearning to get close to someone.

The play seems to take place over several days. That first date went from the daytime when they first met and continued into the evening, when the scene changed and it was now night.  The next scene is the next day. I don’t get the sense they spent the night outside because there is a tiny line that says that she came back the next day. Each time they return to the courtyard for more conversation. Over time the physical distance between the two characters shortens.

In a wonderful scene, she comes up behind him and gently puts her hand out to touch him. The scene is both achingly intimate and also horrifying. We ache for them to get closer because we all ache to get closer to someone during this time in isolation.  But that touch is also horrifying because we know it’s wrong. We know how adamant he is about physical distance. It’s as if they can’t help themselves. And then director Mairi Babb eases the tension for the characters and us, in a wonderful, yet chaste, bit of business. She turns and leans against his back and he doesn’t move away. Stunning.

I thought february: a love story was a lovely, poignant, smart piece of filmed theatre. Ellen Denny, as Her, is sparky, smarmy and vulnerable. And Emilio Vieira, as Him, is sweet, confident, kind, generous and funny. The piece is full of wit and humour and well worth your time and a mug of the best hot chocolate.

february:a love story streams until March 7. 

Leave a Comment

Respectful comments are accepted on this site as long as they are accompanied by a verifiable name and a verifiable e-mail address. Posts that are slanderous, libelous or personally derogatory will not be approved.