A muffin you can’t refuse: ‘Sometimes I Love You, Always’
One rainy night, 70-year-old Mary Louise (Janet-Leigh Green) invites an Internet friend (Booth Savage) over for coffee. (You can tell they’re in their 70s because they say “Internet friend”.) She wastes no time stripping him of his wet clothes, dressing him in her husband’s hand-me-downs, and interrogating him within an inch of his life. In the time it takes for his things to dry, the situation goes from weird to weirder.
This review contains strong language.
Sometimes I Love You, Always is written and directed by Booth Savage and stars Janet-Laine Green with Booth Savage. In Mary Louise’s living room, nothing is as it seems—unless it seems confusing, which it most certainly is. The play follows a series of conversations between Mary Louise and her Internet friend George—if that even is his real name—and unfolds into a meditation on aging, loss, and memory. It’s a showdown between two characters who are as much in a power struggle with themselves as they are with each other.
Green is formidably unfuckwithable as the self-proclaimed nosey old biddy Mary Louise. Playing her role like a Katharine Hepburn cameo in a Looney Tunes episode, she telegraphs some potent and surprisingly raw emotions as the story progresses. In keeping with the characters’ generation, there are several mid- to late-20th-century music and movie references, which drew chuckles from the audience. Whether Mary Louise is asking George a hundred and one questions or trying to force-feed him a muffin, the energy onstage is dynamic. For my millennial/Gen Z crowd: it’s giving The Love Witch for boomers.
Sometimes the show’s pacing works, but not always. There’s a lot going on in the first few minutes to establish the premise, and at times it feels rushed. At the performance I attended, the rapid-fire dialogue took some time to ease into a comfortable cadence. Green pulls off the comedic and emotional beats well, enunciating clearly even while talking a mile a minute. I had a harder time following Savage’s lines, especially when his face was turned away from the audience. The script is witty, and while early scenes need more room for the jokes to breathe, Green and Savage eventually land in a comfortable back-and-forth that highlights the shifting relationship between their characters.
Although the nature and context of their online friendship feels a little under-developed, the characters are interesting enough to make happy hostages of the audience. Some of the twists are fairly predictable, while others caught me by surprise. Sometimes I Love You, Always has a tense romantic edge which, combined with sly commentary on gender roles and a touching ode to long-term love, makes for an enjoyable hour of comedy-drama.