‘Love, Madness and Somewhere in Between’ advocates for humor and humanity in dire circumstances

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Review by Bob Rich

Halfway through James J. Cox’s powerful one-man show, Love, Madness and Somewhere in Between, he talks about parting from a former love interest named Kathy, as Neil Young’s poignant “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” plays inside the theater. Throughout his production, the audience is invited to find consolation through song, literature and laughter, as James describes affecting moments from his life.

James acts out a series of vignettes of his past: unrequited love for women he met, struggles with relatives, colorful characters from his neighborhood while growing up and his pet cat Skippy who provides “zero emotional support” for him. James helps us discover humor and humanity in the most dire of circumstances.

Harris Shore’s sure-handed direction ensures a powerful experience for us. We witness a variety of tumultuous emotions on stage, conveying the clear sense that forgiveness is essential in life, if we want to move forward after troubled times.

The staging is sparse, but James effectively uses a handful of props to vividly recreate key moments from his life: a small table, a cup, articles of clothing. He takes on different personalities, channeling sorrow, outrage or compassion with stirring conviction.

In the end, James reflects that positive action must be taken in this life. He tells us that, lately, he has been reading aloud to sick kids, sharing the joys of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia to young patients in a children’s hospital. He urges us, by example, to live for others.

James J. Cox’s “Love, Madness and Somewhere in Between” played on stage January 27 at Theatre West on Cahuenga.

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