‘Soul Mates’ Finds Life’s Pieces (4 Stars)

Soul Mates” Written by Kirsten Kniseley; Directed by Caroline L. Price; Produced by Boston Actors Theater at The Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Black Box, 539 Tremont St. Boston, MA. Performances through March 22nd..

Watching “Soul Mates” by Kirsten Knisely was a relief for me. I mean, imagine the odds of finding the one person in this overpopulated world that is your “One True Soul Mate”? With my luck my soul mate would be living in Afghanistan, speaking Farsi, with me classified “4F” at the enlistment center. For that matter she could be two towns over and what would be the odds of us ever meeting? What if we met after we’d both been married for years? Oh, the dilemma.

So it was with great relief that I watched this excellent performance of Soul Mates by The Boston Actors Theater. The play is a series of vignettes that take place between the years 1945 and 2011, though wisely, they are not presented in chronological order. The idea of the play is that there are Soul Mates out there in the world, but there may be more than one, and in this way our lives are shaped and informed by the interactions and experiences these people bring to us, and we to them.  We are made whole not by just one other person, our other “half” as it were, but as author Knisely says, we are “like a jig-saw puzzle-seeking multiple pieces, multiple soul mates to grow”. They may not be only lovers too. They can be friends, family, etc. It’s a nice idea and it is the foundation of this enjoyable show.

I must admit the opening scene had me looking at my date quizzically. It was hard to call it a vignette given there was no movement or dialogue, but in the end all would be revealed, as the scene is later revisited. From there the next scene “B.F.F.” kicks things off in a fun way. Angela Keefe as Lenah, and Laura Menzi as Annabelle are convincing and cute as teenagers having a sleepover, discussing all the usual things one would expect: Boys, other girls, parents, etc. When they hear a song they like they leap into synchronized dance which brought loads of laughter from the audience. It was a testament to Knisely’s sense of character that my friend leaned over and admitted, “We really did that!”

The girls talk about believing in soul mates then come to the realization that one of the girl’s parents are divorced. Does that mean they were never soul mates? They decide it’s possible that they are soul mates who are not ready for each other yet, but who may come back together in the end. Relieved, the girls are satisfied with that realization.

Each scene was based loosely around the Soul Mate idea and it was interesting trying to figure out how the relationships intertwined and where they were going. As the scenes changed it was a nice idea to have the playbook handy which listed the vignette title, the locations, the characters, and the years. It helped keep track of characters and how they related to each other. There were scene cards on an easel that the actors would change between vignettes that helped keep things clear as well. But each vignette stood on its own if you wanted to just sit back and enjoy the moments.

Another strong scene followed with “Boys Will Be Boys” wherein Brett Milanowski and Joseph Kidawski played roommates David and Seth, around their college age. This time it was my turn to think, “Yeah, that sounds like a few conversations I’ve heard – or had – with my buddies.”

The four actors played multiple characters and all were solid performances in a small theatre that brings them up close and personal. At times they nearly mingled with the audience. If you like being in the thick of a performance grab the front row seats, if not there are seats up high and farther back that give more separation. The stage lights will heat things up but are turned off between scenes. I was glad I wore layers I could take off. I recommend it.

The stage was as sparse as any I’ve seen in the past year. A blanket on the floor, a park bench, and a footlocker were the props. It’s always fun to watch actors make magic out of nothing, before your eyes. While all the actors gave great performances, I thought Brett Milanowski shined as David/Jeremy/Christopher. His acting was energetic and spirited while still being realistic. The audience was clearly made up of mostly couples and this is a great show to see with your significant other. Or your Soul Mate. for more info, go to: http://www.bostonactorstheater.com/box.html