COME WITNESS AN OLD FASHIONED IRISH LOVE STORY


BONNIE GOLDBERG

Can a man who loves dogs and hates furry felines find happiness with a woman who has a harem of cats and kittens, especially when they both suffer from the agonizing affliction of loneliness? The Square One Theatre Company of Stratford has assembled a fine pair of actors, Al Kulcsar and Lucy Babbitt, to present the touching, tender and bittersweet answer in Christian O'Reilly's "Chapatti" weekends until Sunday, March 19.

Ireland and India crash, literally and figuratively, when Al Kulcsar's Dan bumps into Lucy Babbitt's Betty at the office of their veterinarian. His faithful dog Chapatti, named for a flat bread baked in Indi encounters Betty's box of newborn kittens and none of the pets are ever the same again. Through a set of complicated circumstances, these two strangers find their lives weaving together in a bizarre set of ways, like a crazy quilt or a mismatched tapestry. As they interact, we become acquainted with them and begin to care deeply for their fates.

The tragic loss of a cat becomes the starting point for their friendship and suddenly their solitary lives gain meaning and laughter and , shall I hint, the possibility of love. All is not smooth on the horizon as Dan has a doghouse of secrets that become slowly apparent and Betty has her hands full using a bit of reverse psychology to help him through his mental missteps. Set in Dublin, Ireland in the present, "Chapatti" is a fresh breath of romantic air that as Shakespeare would say "doesn't always run smooth."

Both Kulcsar and Babbitt are wonderful in their roles, he tentatively shy and unassuming with desires that are unrealistic while she is shining optimism and filled with the infectious laughter of hope and promise. Slowly but surely, she encourages him to open the windows of his life to possibilities to let love fly in and take root. Tom Holehan directs this poignant tale of compassion and friendship, of reaching out for company and companionship, that is sure to make your heart smile. Bring a Kleenex or three just in case.

For tickets ($20, seniors $19), call Square One Theatre Company at 203-375-8778 or go online to www.squareonetheatre.com. The show will be held Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at their new home, the Stratford Academy, 719 Birdseye Street, Stratford. A discussion of "Chapatti" will take place at noon, Tuesday, March 21 in the Lovell Room of the Stratford Library. The next production will be "Becoming Dr. Ruth," about that tiny bundle of sexual energy, May 4-21.

Even though Valentine's Day is in the past, buy a discounted box of milk chocolate candy hearts and come enjoy this well-acted tribute to romance.

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