Theater review: 'Yours, Isabel' by Actors Co-op
Boy meets girl. Boy fights Hitler. Girl goes all Rosie the Riveter and wonders whether her new independence beats marriage to Boy — especially when he’s an ocean away. The course of true love is measured by stamps in “Yours, Isabel,” Christy Hall’s slight but appealing epistolary romance, now at Actors Co-op in Hollywood.
When Irish Catholic Jersey girl Isabel (Heather Chesley) falls for lanky Italian Protestant Nick (Rick Marcus), family hackles raise on both sides. But the real trouble starts when Nick leaves for war, forcing the two to build their relationship through letters.
Yet as the years pass, what do they have in common? He’s witnessing battlefield horrors and she’s giddy with unprecedented freedoms for women stepping up to run things stateside. “Yours, Isabel” deftly uses the lens of World War II to ask what relationships mean as people change — although the play’s episodic structure prevents that question from landing as urgently as you’d like. Hall seems to want to push against stereotypes, but her story rarely cuts deep enough to do so.
Playing Nick and all the other men in Isabel's life, the elastic Marcus moves in and out of his multiple roles with ease (his hat helps), while Chesley’s blustering Isabel certainly earns her nickname, Dizzy Izzy.
But the casting of actors significantly older than their roles is distracting, given that the core of the story explores how young Americans, barely old enough to vote, were entrusted with the future of their country.
Still, with its nostalgic Greatest Generation setting, “Yours, Isabel” offers an affectionate look at an age when overcoming absence required more than mere email.
— Charlotte Stoudt
“Yours, Isabel,” David Schall Theatre, First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, 1760 N. Gower St., Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Ends March 11. $30. (323) 462-8460, Ext. 300, or www.ActorsCo-op.org. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.
Photo: Rick Marcus and Heather Chesley. Credit: Lindsay Schnebly.