Despite its title, you might be inspired to passion while watching Clare Barron’s shape-shifting meditation on teenage love and sex, currently at the Bushwick Starr in a production directed by Michael Leibenluft. But even if it doesn’t awaken outright romantic feelings, I’ll Never Love Again will at least renew your affection for theater’s ability to reveal things regular life obscures.
Barron uses choral narration to plot the coordinates of a prototypical teen romance. Clad in purple choir robes, the sweetly sincere ensemble relates a first-person story of teenage love. We follow our protagonist (also named Clare) to familiar locations — parked cars, finished basements — tracing her negotiations of virginity and desire. Folk songs and hymns punctuate tales of make-out sessions and prom-night catastrophes.
But just when you think you know what Barron’s up to, she opens the aperture wider. The chorus disbands. Adorably abstracted angst gives way to a painfully realistic sex scene, canvassing the discomforts of physical contact and consent. Then the world shifts again. An adult Clare inhabits a meticulously detailed office: Keurig, whiteboards, fluorescent light. The highs and humiliations of high school are glimpsed dimly, as far away as a distant planet.
The chasms between these theatrical worlds echo the gulfs between past and present, others and ourselves. Theater’s creative capacity, Barron suggests, is like our own, conjuring new realities from memory, imagination — and yes, even love.
I’ll Never Love Again (a chamber piece)
By Clare Barron
The Bushwick Starr
207 Starr Street, Brooklyn