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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Course of Love

Looking back, the courses I remember best at UMB weren’t the ones that most piqued my educational interests, or delivered the largest load of intellectual laundry to be washed, but the ones with … ahem … really cute girls. This isn’t so much to say that writing ten-page essays on the poetry of Victorian England or the cross-fertilization of certain flowering plants or, ugh, the antics of ancient Greek culture is inimically boring – just that it gets a lot more interesting when you have an attractive academic partner.

Since I’m not the only one to think of college as the pre-eminent place to meet your life partner – or at least hook up for the night – it’s no surprise that someone has written a play about it.

In this case, the play is “The Love Course,” by A. R. Gurney (written long before Linda Williams ever came to Berkeley). Directed by UMB student Jenn Shea, it was performed October 18 before a crowd of nearly three dozen at the Harbor Arts Gallery as part of the Black Box Theater program.

“The Love Course” is an uproarious comedy about two professors, two students, and a string of literary allusions, including “Wuthering Heights” and Shakespeare’s sonnets. Like a ball of yarn, it’s carefully wound: the play begins with the last day of class, on the last day the Love Course will ever be offered. The animosity with which Professor Burgess (the ever-delightful Charlie Moore) and Professor Carroway (Brigid Battell, in a powerful debut) initially greet each other is, of course, a clever ruse to lead the audience to believe that they really do love each other. And the yarn is carefully teased out, inch by inch, until the very end of the play, when suddenly … oh, but that would be spoiling it for you.

Supporting Professors Burgess and Carroway are two students, Mike and Sally (the handsome Larry Bryant and lovely Kristianna Hall, respectively). Mike is an engineering student intent on leading a good life, whereas Sally is taken up with the literature of the Love Course – dark romances such as “Tristan und Isolde” and “Romeo and Juliet,” in which young lovers invariably are murdered, killed, slain, commit suicide, or otherwise die. Makes you want to hand her a Harlequin paperback. On learning of their relationship – lovers and then exes, now locked in that bewildered state of still having feelings for each other – you can’t help but wonder how much of their feelings were influenced by the course.

Okay, I’ll give the ending away: All four do find happiness. Better than that, they find an awareness of their own outlook on love. Which is something I’m still looking for – along with the phone number of that hottie in history class. Alas, alas, and lack-a-day!