The La Boite Theatre Company's production of Adam J. A. Cass's I Love You, Bro, directed by David Bethold, is a play which masterfully engages and captivates the audience. It effectively instructs an enthralling tale of love, deceit and manipulation. The play's protagonist, Johnny, is a troubled teen who's in need of love. Without any power the truth is, online chatrooms are his only break free. It is here, on the online stage, where Johnny fits, seduces and manipulates the unwitting 'Markymark', who through the lies of Johnny, becomes an instrument within an incitement of murder. Although on the surface, I REALLY LIKE You, Bro may appear a twisted account of devious treachery, it is actually a simple, yet tragic anecdote of your boy whose desire to be loved supersedes some other. The play efficiently engrossed the audience through its skilled use of remarkable elements. The strain which existed in the play was well cultivated by the roles and associations excellently portrayed by an individual actor. Some of the success in this respect can be attributed to the highly creative use of the level, and the mixture of lighting and effects, created by Renee Mulder, Carolyn Emerson and Dude Webster.
Behind the many masks which he creates, Johnny (played by Leon Cain) himself is merely as intriguing a character as any he invents. Coming from a world of local violence, missing any who sincerely love him, it is little question that he reaches out in the only path he has open to him; virtually. Early on in the play, Johnny says the audience he was never an outgoing personality; however, as the story develops, so too will Johnny's self-assurance. As the main protagonist, the storyline follows Johnny's struggle to connect with someone, and the steady transformation of the have difficulties into an unsafe obsession. The subject of this obsession is the oblivious teen footballer, Mark. When Make first commences conversing online with Johnny, he mistakenly believes him to be a female. Johnny performs along, eager to satisfy his need to be needed by someone. As time advances, the relationship between your two grows exponentially, to the idea wherein Johnny feels himself to be in love with Tag, who was simply still unaware that his online fan is actually a younger man.
Throughout the span of the play, Johnny conceived a multitude of spurious characters, most of whom served to further his connection with Mark. In the beginning, the string of characters started with a simple mistake on Mark's behalf. After mistakenly believing that Johnny's online alias 'AlbaJay' was a female character, Jessica was born. Jessica was Johnny's first creation, and became his obsession when he came up to the realisation that she could become a conductor for reciprocated love. Jessica, although starting off rather innocently and with no intention of harm, Johnny soon commences to get pregnant new people to fuel his insatiable wish to feel as if he is cared about and tries to achieve this with his creation of two new fictitious character types. These characters are Simon, Jessica's helpless, albeit fabricated younger brother and Stings, an intimidating bully. Johnny creates these folks in order to heighten Mark's thoughts towards him by building an component of hazard in the partnership the two share. By putting Simon in a threatened position, and then using it to pressure Mark into a predicament wherein he has limited classes of action he may take, Johnny takes the game to a higher level, and as due to, vastly escalates the tension in the play. Likewise, the creation of Jane Relationship and Agent 41579 serve similar purposes as Johnny's previous fabrications. Jane Connection and Agent 41579 both enhance the danger mixed up in love, deepening the urgency of the bond between Mark and Johnny. Furthermore, Agent 41579 is comparable to Jessica in that she operates as a magnet for attention and the devotion of Mark. The establishment of the new romance between Mark and Agent 41579 created a restored level of pressure following a lull in the play, and this was only increased as the plot continued and resulted in the invasion on Johnny.
This storyline is played out on a quite simplistic and minimalistic set created by Renee Mulder. It contains an abstract level, which was elevated in the upstage region to creatively act as a cyclorama onto which images and videos were projected. As well as this, the stage had a straightforward wire framed table framework at its most downstage point. It was to this point that the complete stage was pointed towards and focussed on. This was because the office and the computer which sat upon it were the pinnacle of Johnny's life. His computer was the most important part of his life. The set in place was an accurate reflection of his world, and how it revolved around his online presence. The jagged and pointed edges of the stage also showed the disjointed and shattered life which Johnny was an integral part of when not on his computer. The stage also worked well well in cohesion by using a single acting professional. Being a small and uncluttered level, the target was always directed on Johnny and his actions, and this pressured the audience to engage with him and added significantly to the play's overall delivery. Another interesting aspect of the set in place was the wheeled seat which so often Johnny rolled surrounding the stage on. The usage of this couch to rotate around stage proved Johnny's internal conflict and indecisiveness. On numerous occasions throughout the play, Johnny could be observed rolling around level when faced with a difficult decision. This obviously confirmed his opposing and clashing ideas, a metaphor for his doubt concerning which direction to have, and finally, his doubt in himself.
The action of the play was effectively accentuated by light and effects. In most of the play, the level was lit with an azure blue tinge. The lighting effects mirrored Johnny's personal feelings at any certain time. An ideal example of this is seen when Stings needed over Johnny. Stings was the darker area of Johnny, and the lighting of the production captured this facet of him perfectly. Each and every time Stings appeared, the lighting would immediately and without warning switch off from a light colour, and the level would be bathed in almost total darkness, with only the slightest ideas of light dancing around level. In blend with this, a definite whipping sound result was played to indicate the swift and brusque change into the alter ego. After the change had took place, a low and menacing tone was played out, personifying the insidious mother nature of Stings. Likewise, the azure shade which was present as Johnny required the guise of Jessica demonstrated his softer, lighter area. These lighting and sensible elements were creatively used to transmit both mood and personality to the audience, as were the easy images and periodic video recording images projected onto the cyclorama.
Director David Berthold efficiently manipulated the dramatic elements of unique roles and associations provided in Adam J. A. Cass's I Love You, Bro. As a result, the audience can connect on an extremely powerful level with this production. The play skillfully creates anxiety at key points throughout the story, and by the well-timed balancing of this anxiety, the play was extensively engaging.