by Beki Pineda
LOVE ALONE – Written by Deborah Salem Smith; Directed by Andrew Uhlenhopp. Produced by Firehouse Theater Company (presented at the John Hand Theater, 7653 East 1st Place, Denver) through November 10. Tickets available at 303-519-6140 or firehousetheatercompany.com.
    As you enter the theatre, your first impression is of a cleverly designed set which provides six acting areas – a modern living room, a smoking area outside a hospital, a small waiting room, a kitchen table, a lawyer’s office and a stage at a concert hall. How to squeeze all these playing areas onto the stage at the small John Hand Theater seems to be a collaboration between Director Andrew Uhlenhopp and Builder Jeff Jesmer. The design works admirably to keep the audience engaged and secure in where they and the actors are in the story. They are ably assisted by Steve Tangedal’s lighting design which gently leads our eyes to the appropriate acting area while also providing mood lighting for people on stage but not in the scene.
    In the first scene, Helen (Jacqueline Garcia in a touching performance), after being told that her life partner’s operation had gone well, is now told that she passed away in recovery. The shock is palpable and the ramifications of their same sex relationship soon become apparent. The couple have a daughter (a young Lindsay Lohan look-alike Hannah Ford) who pursues the need to find out what happened to her mother and why. The new doctor (only on the job three weeks) is weighed down by guilt that she missed something and could have somehow prevented the outcome. It becomes an investigation into this one tragic case that reflects the problems same sex partners face every day in being accepted as family.
    It is a story told with equality, showing the anguish on both sides, the family and the hospital staff. It even begins to effect Dr. Neal’s relationship. Both the victim’s daughter and her partner express their grief in individual and authentic ways. Jacqueline Garcia’s Helen exudes loneliness and regret while daughter Hannah Ford fuels her grief with anger and a determination to find reasons. Eric Carlson plays the understanding partner of the doctor with compassion while Miranda Byers as the doctor torments herself with “coulda/shoulda” scenerios. Verl Hite is Mr. Rush, an attorney hired by the daughter in her lawsuit against the hospital. LaDios Muhammad plays a nurse who provides an important insight into what may have caused the operation to go so wrong. A tight cast that illuminate an important story. Only one more weekend to catch this exciting production.
A WOW factor of 8.5!!