Yale Rep Explores Matters of the Heart

BONNNIE GOLDBERG

When it comes to romantic comedies, "Elevada" by Sheila Callaghan is decidedly different, maybe even a little quirky. Khalil and Ramona are a fix-up, thanks to Khalil's roommate Owen, and neither party really knows it. Their relationship on the surface is like a balloon meeting a cactus plant, but, somehow, it appears to escape exploding and be capable of flight.

To be an inquisitive fly on the restaurant wall, a curious ear on the bedroom door, an inquiring key to the tell-all diary of the mind, attend the world premiere of this unique and fascinating work at the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven until Saturday, May 16.

Alfredo Narciso's Khalil doesn't even know he's on a date when he meets Laurel Casillo's Ramona in a cafe. He thinks he's meeting her for advice and consultation. He's a recluse to her bubbly, outgoing personality. He's a little lost and she's effervescent and definitely in the moment. Currently unsmployed, he's about to be "branded by a corporation and cease to exist." She thinks the idea is crazy.

How they even make it to a second date is amazing. Somehow, with all their issues, and Ramona has a medical mountain of her own, the pair find connections on which to hang Cupid's arrows. Ramona's concerned and take-charge older sister June (Keira Naughton) can't help providing suggestions and healthy food. As a successful high end realtor, she has problems of her own, in her love life and underwear drawer.

June may have met her match when she is paired up with Khalil's alcoholic writer/roommate Owen (Greg Keller), who has an opinion about every move Khalil makes as well as anyone else who enters his sphere of influence.

Both Khalil and Ramona are in the midst of major life altering situations, yet they are battling those demons independently. Can they get their dance steps coordinated so they will tango off into the sunset together? You'll have to sign up for dance lessons to discover for yourself. The title "Elevada" refers to a tango step, one that can be performed with elegant movements, by the play's dancers: Frankie Alicea, Luis Antonio, Evan Gambardella, Melissa Kaufman and Rebecca Maddy.

Jackson Gay directs this talented ensemble in this unusual romantic entanglement with smooth and fluid patterns, as Khalil and Ramona, June and Owen, involve you in their affairs of the heart. Scenic designer Kurtis Boetcher and projection designer Shawn Boyle add color and flair to this flight of fancy.

For tickets ($20-98), call the Yale Rep, 1150 Chapel Street, New Haven at 203-432-1234 or online at www.yalerep.org. Performances are Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at scheduled 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Watch Owen play Cupid with some unexpected results, proving once again that "rocky road" is more than just the name of a yummy ice cream flavor.


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