Dana Hooley, Francis Gercke and Tori King Rice in "Loves and Hours." Photo by Ken Jacques
The loves in Stephen Metcalfe’s Loves and Hours are of the May-December variety: Near-50 Dan Tilney (Francis Gercke) is in love (or at least in lust) with barely over 20 Charlotte (Taylor Henderson). Dan’s medical-student daughter Rebecca (Beth Gallagher) is in love with an over-40 doctor named Walter. His college-age son, Dan Jr. (Jake Rosko), is in love (and/or in lust) with neglected – and older -- married woman Sara (DeNae Steele). Even his best friend Harold (Paul Maley) is a newlywed: to a young woman named Andrea (Sofia Sassone) who is half his age. These let’s call them sophisticated relationships may be too hip for audiences at Scripps Ranch Theatre, where Loves and Hours runs through July 2 under the direction of Gercke. (I overheard an older gentlemen sitting near me at a matinee say: “I never knew women were so forward.”) But at the core of it, Loves and Hours isn’t very daring. It’s sitcom-ish in a sleeping around kind of way, and ultimately it celebrates love for what it is: THE FEELING that we all want, right?
Metcalfe’s exposition relies on frequent monologues from Gercke in the title role, foreshadowing, reflecting on and second-guessing not only Dan’s romantic strategies but those of everyone else in his sphere. Almost forgot to mention Dan’s ex-wife, Linda (Dana Hooley), who divorced him after realizing she was gay. If Loves and Hours’ plot sounds overly busy and overly coincidental, it’s because it is. That, along with the reliance on monologue, are its issues. But frankly they’re overcome by an excellent cast at Scripps Ranch Theatre that features not only Gercke himself (very believable in Dan’s doubt-ridden skin) but also Maley as the hapless sugar daddy Harold, Beth Gallagher as daughter Rebecca (in a role that should be bigger) and Hooley, reliably hilarious here as she is in most everything she appears in.
The play’s most sympathetic and genuine character is Dan’s platonic friend Julia (Tori King Rice), whose concept of true love is the purest. Rice is warm and smart and vulnerable in the part, too, qualities that foster an ambiance for a satisfying conclusion.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.