Big Love
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Jeff Thomas

Charles Mees plays are unique, full of light and dark comedy and at times quite shocking. Hes a man that has a lot to say, particularly about love and human relationships, and he tries to say it all in every play he writes. Theres an energy level in everything his characters convey, both physically and verbally, that is always at a fever pitch. Many, myself included, feel hes brilliant, but others write him off as being too preachy. In his own words he says:

I write out of the belief that we are creatures of our history and culture and gender and politics that our beings and actions arise from that complex of influences and forces and motivations, that our lives are more rich and complex than can be reduced to a single source of human motivation.

So I try in my work to get past traditional forms of psychological realism, to bring into the frame of the plays material from history, philosophy, insanity, inattention, distractedness, judicial theory, sudden violent passion, lyricism, the National Enquirer, nostalgia, longing, aspiration, literary criticism, anguish, confusion, inability.

I like plays that are not too neat, too finished, too presentable. My plays are broken, jagged, filled with sharp edges, filled with things that take sudden turns, careen into each other, smash up, veer off in sickening turns. That feels good to me. It feels like my life. It feels like the world.

In Mees drama Big Love, now playing at Actors Theatre of Santa Rosa, 50 women, dressed in wedding gowns, run away from their husbands-to-be right before the ceremony. Its a classic war between the sexes, so classic that Mee bases his play on a Greek drama, The Suppliants, written by Aeschylus about 492 BC. Yes, the question of love verses freedom has been around for a long time and its exploration is more physical than thought provoking. Indeed, both the ancient Greek play and Mees Big Love are extremely physical. Men and women engage in all kinds of aerobic activities to vent their frustrations with the opposite sex as well as fist fights, knife fights and gun fights in Big Love.

Director Paul Draper chose a young, physically fit cast to play the parts of the brides and grooms, and the action is well choreographed and virtually nonstop a necessity for the success of most Mee plays.

Again, this drama is not for everybody and is adult in nature. There is some nudity, strong language and violence, but it is a very powerful drama that thoroughly explores the opposite poles of man and woman, proving once again that opposites attract and repulse, and that as difficult as it may be, Love cannot be wrong.

For tickets or more information call (707) 523-4185 ext. 1 or visit

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