by Stu Brown
Lou Diamond Phillip, the actor who is starring in the world premiere, Burning Desires, at Seven Angels in Waterbury, is captivating, has an engaging stage presence and charismatic allure.
Lou Diamond Phillip, the playwright who penned the comedy, Burning Desires, demonstrates his acumen as an insightful, intelligent writer. However, the structure of this tale of the devil seeking nubile souls to add to his collection, is uneven and punctuated by lengthy monologues by the star. They end up detracting too much from the main storyline of two, young single professionals seeking love and a long lasting romance.
We first meet the present day Adam (Andrew) and Eve (Evan) at the supermarket where, with a little help from you-know-who, the two meet and are well on their way to a meaningful courtship. The devil’s goal is simple -- will he be able to convince each of them to sell their souls for true love? He leaves little to chance by constantly interfering and disrupting their mostly harmonious lives. Will he succeed?
As the writer, I wish Lou Diamond Phillip would have spent more time delving into his role as master manipulator as well as fleshing out and further exploring the relationship of the romantic couple. This, combined with less reliance on his recitations, would have added depth to the play and made it a more rewarding production.
The three leads are splendid and show a good rapport and chemistry together. Lou Diamond Phillips brings a dash of star power to the production, but he also demonstrates a nimble and proficient acting capability. His Lucifer is witty, bewitching and a roguish schemer. Tara Franklin (Evan) and Ryan Wesley Gilreath (Andrew) are attractive and appealing performers. There is a believable attraction and playfulness between the two actors.
Director Richard Zavaglia does a satisfying job incorporating the two divergent segments of the show. He smartly stages the delivery of Lou Diamond Phillip’s monologues like a full-throated carnival barker gleefully tempting and playing with the audience. He also shows a nimble hand in guiding the interplay between the three actors, successfully capitalizing on their appeal and zest for the roles.
Burning Desire, at the Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury through March 13th.