‘Me Love Me’ is worth watching at Hollywood Fringe Festival

By Tony Bartolone
Contributing Writer
HWF
What’s funny about drug addiction, animal euthanasia and reproductive cloning? ‘Me Love Me’ pokes fun at a surplus of controversial subjects while broaching themes, such as the duality of man, without quite settling for any consistent idea. While the protagonist is frustrating in his unyielding self-destruction, and there are opportunities of brilliance just missed, overall, this is an entertaining and interesting execution.
The show offers a fresh take on previously explored material, which is an achievement in itself. The constant here is the central character’s behavior. Tuck is the embodiment of an egotistical, selfish Los Angeles actor. The play succeeds in its satirical representation of LA and it’s inhabitants. There are three basic archetypes at work that have a tendency to overlap and intertwine. Tuck is the artless, party-seeking actor that is epitome of what everybody who hates LA is always complaining about. His girlfriend, Gemma, is adversely the much more respectable, caring, consummate artist. Tuck’s clone, Cluck, is the naïve, wide-eyed dreamer who is new to LA (and new to the world in general, in this case). The fun is watching these three characters influence and manipulate each other. In fact, there is a sense of fun throughout the play. It was a pleasure to watch the audience react to twisted lines of dialogue and squirm. Good comedy should be a little uncomfortable.
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Benjamin Durham somehow retained some amount of likability and charm while portraying the reprehensible, drug-crazed Tuck. Lizzie Adelman became a rock for the believability in her magnetic performance as the voice of reason, Gemma. Playing out chief the comic device of the play is heavy load. And Sto Strouss was not only able to carry that load, but illuminated the stage in his dopey yet delightful realization of Cluck.

If there is a central dramatic question at work, it must be “Can a person change?” The answer, of course, is yes. However, that transition is one that often involves more loss than wanted. In other words, a person must shed what they used to be, and often who they used to be with, to actively change. In a sense, a person must shed their former self, which in this case is illustrated with a clone. The convention of a clone creates psychological questions about humanity, but more than that it leads to some truly inventive comedic moments. Ultimately, the show is an intriguing look into relationships, addiction and acting in LA. With just enough heart to get you through the distorted sense of humor, ‘Me Love Me’ is worth a watch.

***

Love Me Love

Written by Brandon Baruch

Directed by Marc Warzecha

Performances

Saturday, June 29th at 3:00 pm

Tickets available through the Hollywood Fringe Festival Website

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