The one-person show is an unrivaled form for impressing a live audience with one's skills. It is also, alas, unparalleled as a vehicle for self-indulgence in front of a live audience. John Fortson is a handsome, earnest young man who loves surfing and his wife. He has not done justice to either, however, nor has he or his director, Terrie Silverman, found a strong dramatic reason for this show, which is an unrelenting stream of angst about how much Fortson loves his wife. His shrieking, high-pitched motor-mouth depiction of her does not win us over, nor does Silverman's tragic miscalculation in letting the actor regularly mime kissing and making out with the wife, an image that borders on the absurd.
For a show that deals with the theme of surfing, it is a puzzling disappointment that there is no surf music, water sounds, or realistic depictions of surfing. Fortson, as a dramatist, is also suspect because he envelops himself in warm, kind hues, as a loving, caring, patient man, with nary a fault. The audience is asked to like his cartoonish portrayal of an actor-turned-wife who is self-involved, lacks courage, and—during a potentially moving moment at the script's end—obsesses about her postnatal body.
The choice of music accentuates the show's maudlin qualities, playing Joe Cocker's version of "You Are So Beautiful" and using no sound effects or other music to cover Silverman's blocking. In the depiction of a man unenduringly romantic and impossibly calm with a woman whose positive qualities are not on display, we wait for a catharsis, a moment of change in the central characters of Fortson's life. In the end, we get a husband and wife bonding over doing yoga together. Fortson and Silverman need to truly stretch their theatrical muscles.
Presented by and at the Hudson Guild Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood.
May 2–June 7. Fri.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m. (323) 965-9996. www.loveswell.com.