It Had To Be You
Reviewed by David Kashimba

ďIt had to be you, nobody but you,Ē sings Theda Blau, a struggling New York actress and would-be playwright who makes those lyrics her mantra or, perhaps more accurately, her man-tra. Indeed, there is a sense of desperation about her that builds to a frenzied crescendo of wild, maddening laughter in Playhouse Westís production of It Had To Be You. But the crazier and more insufferable she becomes in her obsessive quest to possess Vito Piznoli, a man she lured into a one-night-stand, the more the audience becomes subtly aware of the loving, compassionate side to her nature.

Since she literally makes Vito a hostage in her small New York apartment, we canít help feeling sorry for the poor guy even though weíre laughing ourselves silly over his predicament. But little by little we become aware of things that Vito himself is not yet aware of, like the way the two characters mirror each other, knowing things about the other without even speaking. Even though they continue to tear each other to pieces verbally, we begin to realize that their body language is saying something completely opposite of their words. Indeed, their words are merely an expression of fear, a desperate attempt at flight from a far deeper force that has taken possession of both of them.

But itís their struggle against this force, which is at once primal and spiritual, that feeds the comic energy of this play and makes the audience laugh so hard that tears come to their eyes. Sheila OíNeill Ellis (New Wrinkles) and David Hern (Wrong for Each Other) are perfect for their roles as Theda and Vito. Balancing the comic with the love story, so that each feeds the other into a synergy that touches the audience on many levels, is no small achievement and Ellis and Hern pull it off beautifully.

For a night of great entertainment call the folks at Playhouse West (925) 942-0300. Youíll be glad you did.

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