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THEATER REVIEW: “San Diego, I Love You 2.0”

CircleCircledotdot specializes in local stories, usually developed after interviews with local residents. Last year, they jumped on the “site-specific” bandwagon initiated by La Jolla Playhouse with “San Diego, I Love You,” a group of five locally written, very short stories about five couples trying to decide whether to break up or, in one case, whether to even make a second date. The locales were several haunts in Hillcrest.

This year, C2d2 talked to several local military couples in developing “San Diego, I Love You 2.0.” Playwrights Samantha Ginn and Julio Jacobo have chosen to stick with one couple, and in five episodes trace the ups and downs of falling for and sharing your life with a man in the military.

Our guide Frankie (Eddie Avalos) tells us we will also see “the lovely sights of University Heights” when we meet at Bourbon Street on Park Boulevard.

It’s in this gay bar (in Virginia Beach) that Chuck (Michael Parrot) and Grace (Lia Peros) have a rather rocky first meeting (assumptions about gay bars being what they are, or were in 1986 when this story begins). But of course, Chuck and Grace will decide to meet again.

In this 75-minute production, Grace will move to San Diego, they (Ashley Toolan and Ryan Kidd) will marry, she (Crystal Mercado) will go to work in real estate, they will have a baby. In fact, your tour guide is their son Frankie (Avalos). After 9/11, Chuck (Durwood Murray) will be deployed again and Grace (Jyl Kaneshiro) will express the loneliness of most military wives.

In the last scene, Grace (Kathi Copeland) prepares for Chuck’s retirement party after 30 years in the Navy – on the phone with Chuck (John Whitley-Gibson).

“San Diego, I Love You 2.0” is more slice-of-life than drama in the usual sense; unfortunately, I find this a good deal less engaging than the last entry. The first scene is the best, but after that it’s fairly humdrum – just like most of our lives – and I want more from theater: to be challenged, left with a question to ponder or a problem to consider.

But I admire their pluck and local emphasis and look forward to C2d2’s next production.

The details

“San Diego, I Love You 2.0” plays Feb. 8, 9, 15, and 16 at various University Heights locations. Begins at Bourbon Street, 4612 Park Blvd.

Performance times: 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30, 3 and 3:30 pm.

Tickets: 619-356-3682 or HERE.

To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.