Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Love is a Dirty Word by Giovanni Adams


Giovanni Adams - Photos by Aaron Epstein

By Joe Straw

a poetic journey of life

love without the rhyme

making life moments when there were none, moments ago

love is love

in an unwavering heart

love is love - narrator

Tilted Field Productions, in associate with VS. Theatre, presents the World Premier of Love is a Dirty Word, written and performed by Giovanni Adams, and directed by Becca Wolff, through July 15, 2017.

How does a gay fatherless black young man growing up in Jackson, Mississippi, living in less than ideal conditions, end up going to Yale University?

The answer is not entirely forthcoming in Love is a Dirty Word performed by Giovanni Adams. Forthcoming in the way you want a performer to “use your words” to provide the details of the comings and goings in his memoir.

This play is performed in stylized words, measured lines in a kind of lyrical arranged meter. It is stunningly beautiful and solidly moving.  By the end, Adams has indescribably triumphed as an artist, a man, and a human being.

Arturo Lopez, Guitarist and Arranger, accompanies the music exquisitely sung by Adams, which is soft and lyrical. He is the shadow of the song, the one who keeps you company in song when you’re trying to figure things out.

The show plays well in the VS. Theatre, an intimate space with only 40 seats or so. It is a striking and welcoming theatre run by Johnny Clark, Artistic Director.

Rachel Myers, Set Design, places us in a southern home, which is remarkable in its simplicity and authenticity.  The set design takes us both inside modest warm home, and outside, in the rich red clay of the cotton fields in Jackson, Mississippi.

But how did he get to Yale? And what’s with the Italian name?

Giovanni Adams

Adams has a remarkable memory and an imperturbably gaze as he recounts the significant moments in his life.  The stark portraits of images with all of its details are etched in the awareness that he carries forth.  It is a poetic memory, one more notation to cement the final document of his journey.

Love is not a dirty word, but a word that turns the world.  Certainly, it is an action that actors use to create life on stage.  Love in this context means gay love. But love depends on the person doing the loving. Love eliminates labels, raises the roof on forgiveness, and gives respect.

Love is a pecan tree, with its warm buttery taste.  

And love is whatever moves the audience.

But, what about Yale?

The answers are in the words, the characters in his life, the father who went to prison, the stepfather who took his place, the mother, grandmother, and other relatives that gave him character and an understanding of life, both the joys and the pain. 

The answers, of how he went to Yale, are all there if you absorb the journey.  

Becca Wolff, the director, does an outstanding job of letting Adams be free, doing what he needs to do, but guiding him nevertheless in a show that is both simple and brilliant. There are a lot of similarities in style between this play and Dear Evan Hansen, and oddly enough with Hamilton, which makes this show a completely enjoyable evening.  

Run! Run! Run!  And take a coxswain, someone who will guide you to the theatre and bring you safetly back home.  

Other members of this delightful crew are as follows:

Niki Armato – Dound Design
Derrick McDaniel – Lighting Design
Melissa Trn – Costume Consultant
Lenny Wolff – Technical Director
Geri Wolff – Props Manager
Tommy Dunn – Ticketing/Front-of-House/ Social Media
Aaron Hauser – Stage Carpenter
Sean Mayturn – Scenic Painter
Matt Brunhofer – Lighting Technician
Ariel Vargez – Graphics
Lynn Tejada/Green Calatic – PR

VS. Theatre
5453 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA  90019

Reservations: 323-739-4411, or

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