Secret Theatre’s dark comedy ‘Love is Dead’ thrills audiences with murderous tale of love gone bad

Secret Theatre’s dark comedy ‘Love is Dead’ thrills audiences with murderous tale of love gone bad
A bloody Patrick Scherrer plays Eugene in the murderous, sexually charged, dark comedy “Love is Dead!” by Seanie Sugrue, which runs through Sept. 23 at Secret Theatre in LIC.
Photo by Josh Goldsmith
By Tammy Scileppi

Let’s face it, human beings seem to have a secret thirst for blood. Have you noticed how many popular binge-worthy crime/murder programming offerings are out there? It’s shocking: Snapped, It Takes a Killer, Swamp Murders, Killer Confessions, Grave Secrets, Deadly Women, Surviving Evil, The Perfect Murder, Fatal Vows, American Monster, Fear Thy Neighbor, Murder Among Friends, and more.

In fact, CBS-TV’s drama series, “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” made DNA a household term to millions of fans here, and in over 170 countries, who have been glued to their screens watching dozens of cases getting solved, thanks to a clever team of forensic investigators.

OK, you get the picture. So, if you’re a crime buff or murder maven obsessed with mysteries, motives, and how the criminal mind works, and just can’t get enough of that stuff or you’re looking for something different to do this Saturday night – and still haven’t experienced the Secret Theatre’s dark comedy, “Love is Dead!”— hurry over to Long Island City for the final performance of this anything-but-average, unapologetically brash, play. You’ll be shocked to find out whodunit and why.

A murderous, twisted tale of love gone bad, “it’s like nothing else out there,” according to the theater’s artistic director, Richard Mazda, who steals the show in his role as crotchety, crusty Walter.

Cursing, nastiness, misery and discontent, spicy sexuality and blatant sexism, brazen lies and deceit … run rampant in this farcical study of sociopathy/psychopathy and dysfunctional relationships. Eventually, all those elements collide in a crescendo of vengeful violence, expressed by each character in a variety of creative ways.

The audience sits close to all that in-your-face drama, and you’ll feel like you’re part of the action, as you take in three acts bursting with edgy, disturbing, bloody … fun: “The Apple and the Tree,” “Two Minute Kenneth,” and “My Goldfish Loves Me, But I Hate Your Guts.” Each vignette features different couples – mostly young, truly talented actors – who do a great job embracing their characters’ off-kilter and sometimes manic, personalities.

“Love is Dead! was originally a piece I wrote to entertain myself. I didn’t think, with the content, that I could ever share it with the public,” said prolific playwright Seanie Sugrue, whose Locked in the Attic Productions joined forces with the Secret Theatre to present this play, which he also directed.

“I met Seanie a couple of years ago, and often refer to him as the punk playwright, mainly because he breaks the stuffy rules of how you produce the theatre and yet pulls it off every time, as evidenced by the wonderful support that he has garnered,” said Mazda.

Adapted from the play, the feature film “Love is Dead!” was shot in its entirety at the popular venue in late winter, early spring of this year, using a three-camera, 4-by-3 television screen format. It was visually styled after 1980s family sitcoms like “Married with Children” and “Full House.”

“I’m really enjoying working on this piece” said Mazda, who also plays Walter in the film version. “Walter is likeable, but has a nasty edge to him as a character, which you see in his constant bickering with his wife, Betsy. He’s not too proud of his son Trevor, who seems to be literally a chip off the old block, as in a bit of a screw-up, and things don’t end well for Walter and Betsy.”

At least five actors that were in the movie are reprising their roles on stage, though there are new actors as well, like Julie Reifers, who plays Betsy.

Directed by Josh Folan, the movie was produced by NYEH entertainment, and is the second full-length feature film to be shot completely at Secret Theatre; an indie horror film called “The Moosehead Over the Mantle,” was shot there last August. And earlier this year, Mazda wrote and directed “Ghostlight,” a short horror movie, with senior film students playing all roles.

“We are currently looking forward to submitting ‘Love Is Dead!’ the movie, to various film festivals, including Tribeca and Sundance, so this project probably has a lot of life in it yet,” said Mazda.

“I think people should come and see this original play because it’s not like any other. It does have some shocking moments, but there is a huge amount of laughs, as well.”

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