And they call it puppy love ...
|By Tom Helma|
Purple Rose dramedy looks at an abbreviated love 30 years later
Wednesday, July 3 — Ever wonder what happened to the girl you loved when you were a teenager? Can we go home again and explore the road not taken? “Miles & Ellie,” playing at the Purple Rose Theatre Co., answers those questions.
We meet Miles and Ellie when at age 17, thrown together by a high school biology class that pairs them up as expectant parents carrying around a sack of flour with a smiley face.
Rhiannon Ragland is Ellie, insecure and feeling plain, while Rusty Mewha is the longhaired geek, Miles. They portray, with great exuberance, passionate puppy love afflicted teenagers boiling over with frenetic — nay, frenzied — energy. Their wrap-around hugging and full frontal, lip-locked tongue kissing is executed with dramatic theatrical flair. Yee-haw!
Contrastingly, they are joined by Ellie’s parents: Burt (Bill Simmons) is a bland and boring, staid and stoic, red state conservative state senator who spouts political platitudes in response to any attempts at real conversation; Mary, his wife hovers around a quiet alcoholism that becomes full-blown in Act II. Michelle Mountain plays this role to its comic hilt and evokes sustained applause near the end of the play as her rant crescendos into bitter acceptance of her empty marriage. Simmons is everything you might have suspected Mitt Romney to be at home, a legend in his own mind, trapped in his own truth.
Act I ends with a misunderstanding of epic proportion that ends this teenaged love story before it comes to a lifelong fruition.
Fast forward 20 years and we meet this same young couple approaching 40. A lot of water has gone over the dam. Ellie is divorced and we are informed by her parents that she’s had a really bad time of it. Miles, on the other hand, has become the computer programmer he always thought he would be and has sort of wandered towards an adult life that is sort-of successful, but not amazingly so. They lock eyes, they talk a bit and … that’s it.
In real life, there is a lot of that goes on in between once upon a time and happily ever after. Writer Don Zolidis chooses not to plumb those depths. Instead we are left with the notion that there are those who hold on to the magic of 17 in our hearts, wishing we could somehow go back to the innocence and start all over and create a whole new life script.
“Miles and Ellie” is full of laughter and had many audience members chuckling. In the end, however, the play suffers from too few tender moments. Dazzling acting and good stage direction cannot fully overcome the limits of the script, and yet, despite this, one leaves remembering one’s own 17-year-old girlfriend.
Whatever happened to her?
"Miles & Ellie”