‘An Infinite Ache’

By Roz Friedman

The title wasn’t that familiar; the set, a Spartan bedroom dominated by a large bed, a bureau, and two end tables topped by two small lamps and a Menorah, jogged the memory. The love story between two young people: a Jewish man, named Charles, and a Chinese girl named Hope, rang a bell. Didn’t we see this before, my friend whispered? She was right. We had seen this play, An Infinite Ache, written by David Schulner and directed by Greg Leaming, on Long Wharf’s Stage II in 2001.

This is a challenging piece, which demands much of its two-character cast, both in acting and handling all the props and clothing changes. . Under Steve Karp’s capable direction, Tristan Colton and Vanessa Kai portray a young couple that meets, falls in love in Los Angeles, eventually marries, has a son whom they tragically lose, bears a daughter, struggles through the travails of life, grows old and dies. All this in one hour and a half without intermission!

An Infinite Ache
Tristan Colton as Charles and Vanessa Kai as Hop in 'An Infinite Ache,' now playing at Stamford Theater Works.

Tristan Colton is fine as the young, awkward, lonely Charles, who suffers from the “infinite ache,” later explained as love. The actor has a harder time aging—maybe a little grey in his hair would help- but then, in the last scene, when the couple returns to their youth that would be hard to explain. Vanessa Kai gives a more complex portrait of a girl, admittedly immature, selfish and not faithful who becomes a wife and mother, and desires to discover her self. Education and a career in psychology lead her to separate from Charles. Their reunion is ever so sweet. The only problem is that I did not understand why and how her baby, Buddy, died. Her overly emotional, high-pitched delivery got in the way.

The playwright covers a great deal of ground here. The angst of two people integrating their lives; the role that religion and culture have in a marriage; the role that tragedy has in a marriage; the role that age has in a marriage. In all, a touching experience that reminds us that life flies by leaving An Infinite Ache, at Stamford Theatre Works through May 11.

(This review originally aired on WNFR Fine Arts radio.)

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