Quote of the Day: As an artistic community, we value the role of collaboration in the creation of original work; we commit ourselves to the imaginative telling of relevant stories; we believe the human body to be the ultimate theatrical instrument. Transatlantic Love Affair’s Artistic Statement.

These Old Shoes by Transatlantic Love Affair, playing thru 2/19/23 at Illusion Theater. Photo by Lauren B. Photography

This was my first experience with Transatlantic Love Affair, and I’ll have to say I’ve been missing out. What they could do with a blank stage, no props, and using only their bodies, voices, and music transcends the audience into the world they create. I was immediately engaged from the opening scene as the actor moved forward, looked in the mirror and set her wig. I chuckled at her expressions. Then, she starts to interact with the other residents at the senior living center. The actors display movement of varying degrees of aging, from leaning over a walker, hunched shoulders, leaning in to hear better. I’ve done activities in senior living centers, and these body characteristics were spot on. I was transported back to those moments. I loved how they interacted, their stories, and friendship bond.

These Old Shoes by Transatlantic Love Affair, playing thru 2/19/23 at Illusion Theater. Photo by Lauren B. Photography

As the play progresses, we meet Jim, who is moving out of the home he’s had for all his married life. His wife recently passed, and his granddaughter is there to help him pack up. He’s looking for his memory box. When she finds it, he takes us on a memory trip when he was a young man, enlisted in the service and about to enter the Korean War. He meets Margorie at the diner, asks her out, takes her to a dance, and asks her to wait for him. We see how the horrors of war changed him, and he sends her a letter releasing her from her promise to wait for him. They both move on to live separate lives.

These Old Shoes by Transatlantic Love Affair, playing thru 2/19/23 at Illusion Theater. Photo by Lauren B. Photography

The story flips between present day at the senior living center and Jim’s memories, as well as other residents’ stories and memories. It is so beautifully done that I never strayed away from the story. Jeff A. Miller sits at the side of the stage with his guitar, playing the background music to these vivid scenes, adding atmosphere and setting. He plays his own original compositions with whisps of melodies from the nostalgic era of the residents’ youth, to upbeat songs during the happy moments, and joining in with the cast as they sing, “Echoes and Memories” created by The Champagne Drops for this production. The actors change movement, body posture and actions to depict characters in various stages of their lives. They add in sound effects, becoming a grandfather clock, the elevator, and any number of elements to help ground you in the story. It was fascinating to watch. This ensemble cast play several characters and includes: Heather Bunch, Chasya Hill, Eric Nelson, Peytie McCandless (Margorie), Derek Lee Miller (Jim), Adelin Phelps, and Allison Vincent. Understudy Leslie Vincent filled in for Sunday’s performance for Adelin Phelps. Lighting design by Garvin Jellison was also excellent, helping us focus and giving special effect to certain scenes. 

Do yourself a favor and get to this show before it closes on February 19, 2023. These Old Shoes by Transatlantic Love Affair is storytelling at its finest. The show was conceived and written by founding director Diogo Lopes. Performed in partnership with Illusion Theater at their new location the Center for the Performing Arts in Minneapolis, MN. Tickets are “pay as you’re able,” so anyone can afford to attend.

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: Do you know your parents’ love story?