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Imperfect Love

From 13 critic and 30 member reviews
Members say: Slow, Great acting, Funny, Great staging, Disappointing

About the show

A story of love and betrayal, set just over 100 years ago, between an actress  and her playwright lover. Inspired by the real-life relationship between the great Eleanora Duse and the poet D’Annunzio. More…

'Perfect Love' is a story set at the turning of an epoch, and the turning of two styles of theater: the more visceral and emotional style that Eleonora and Torrisi are exemplars of, and the ‘new’ psychological style epitomized by Nordic writers like Ibsen and Strindberg. Eleonora and Torrisi are both vulnerable and aware that their day may have passed, and along with it, their love. Should Torrisi abandon Eleonora and strike out for a collaboration with her arch-rival, the Parisian Sarah Bernhardt? Should Eleonora withdraw her support (and love?) from the possibly outmoded Torrisi and try to work with up-and-coming Ibsen? In the middle of all this is the classically trained leading-man Domenica, who doesn’t know which way to turn in his professional life, or in the tangled world of his emotional allegiances.


"Its references to classical Italian theater, as in commedia de l’arte, are recognized in its clown-servant characters...The key to a Pierrot character, that is, sad clowns in general, is they are sad when they should be happy. This makes the character endearing...There’s a comedy from the contradiction, but also potentially tragedy...An excellent production based on an excellent play...not to be missed!" Full Review

Woman Around Town

"There are so many seamless crossovers of life and script as the 1899 cast tries to repair a poorly reviewed play while salving the relationship of its principals, worlds meld. Rather than being confusing or irritating, the approach adds intriguing layers to most every speech...Cole's eloquent, often poetic script eventually ties unruly loose ends in a satin bow...Except for letting Lopresti get away with poor semblance, Director Di Jiacomo does a wonderful job." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Inspired by the relationship between Eleonora Duse and Gabriele D'Annunzio...Cole mines the fields of their passion. He constructs an intriguing comedy in which the strains and jealousies of their relationship collide with their professional company’s well being...Michael Di Jiacomo manages to strike a balance between comedic tones and the irony of actors playing parts that are more about living truth than mannered, overblown performances in an antique style." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"Spina shines here as the brightest of stars, the zenith of our theatrical stratosphere...It’s a compelling conflict beautifully researched by Brandon Cole...All of this gorgeous production occurs under the sagacious helm of Michael Di Jiacomo. There is an air of authenticity in the text...However, the rather dizzying conflation of sources sets the actors adrift onstage, sometimes landing with precision, sometimes not. The overall effect is still impressive though." Full Review

Off Off Online

"Interestingly, this protracted struggle, focusing the action almost entirely on the matter of finding a better way to end the play, slows the play down in a good way. It allows for the audience’s total immersion into the time and place, the emotions, intentions, and motivations...Slow and steady is visibly, audibly, and viscerally apparent in the creative interpretation...The production works on many levels...A labor of creative love." Full Review


"An intriguing picture of the celebrated couple, Eleonora Duse and Gabriele D'Annunzio...While 'Imperfect Love' gives you a fascinating backstage look at the love affair of a famous couple, it has some structural problems...It's a poignant story that captures the competing styles of theater in fin de siècle Italy...Though flawed, 'Imperfect Love' is sensitively directed by Michael Di Jiacomo and finely acted by the entire ensemble...This is a bittersweet valentine." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“Even had Cole called them D'Annunzio and Duse…the play reflects their real identities in only the broadest fashion, offering just a few historical crumbs that those familiar with one or the other person might appreciate…The action rambles along with very few of its attempts at humor hitting their mark. A lugubrious air hovers over the frequent, repetitive squabbling…Too often the play seems to be spinning its wheels, with frequently plodding dialogue unrelieved by wit.” Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"As a celebration of theater and an exploration of how the form absorbs or fails to absorb change, 'Imperfect Love' is diverting. There just isn't a whole lot else going on...The theatrical and romantic squabbles can be entertaining, and it's set at a fascinating moment in theatrical history...Cole just doesn't have much to say about it...Still, if you're partial to theatrical atmosphere and shop talk, you could do a lot worse than this one." Full Review


"Cole's ambitious but rambling script is just one of the problems troubling this wobbly production...Over the course of two hours, director Michael Di Jiacomo fails to raise the emotional stakes between Rosa and Gabriele one iota...Part of the blame also lies in the melodramatic, repetitive, cliché-laden dialogue...Thankfully, there are some bright spots. Malone and O'Hara prove somewhat effective clowns...But these moments are not enough to offset 'Imperfect Love's' imperfections." Full Review

Village Voice

"All these elements make for a rich subject for a play, but this production of 'Imperfect Love' feels presentational, inert, and underpopulated...The actors here are all in their own worlds, not listening to one another closely enough, and they play too often on one note without change or variation. Sometimes the writing can be monotone as well...This production conveys that momentous event — as with most of the occurrences it depicts — in a stiff and unconvincing manner." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Whatever else one might say about 'Imperfect Love,' it looks like a billion lire...The characters are trapped in a script so flaccid and uninvolving as to be beyond repair. It's a marathon talkfest...A little wit would help, but most of playwright Brandon Cole's dialogue reads like a foreign film with badly translated subtitles...Under the direction of Michael Di Jiacomo, the actors consistently opt for the most superficial line reading possible." Full Review


“Don't go expecting to learn about the life and careers of actress Eleonora Duse and poet and playwright Gabriele D'Annunzio who had a passionate nine year affair at the turn of the last century. Although Cole's program note indicates that he has done a great deal of research on these real people and Italian theater of their times, they come off as generic characters with few biographical details. Strangely, the play has had a previous New York production in 2000.” Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

"A rather unfortunate imperfect storm of inconsistent acting, a mind-boggling plot, confusing dialogue, and confounding direction...Jiacomo is unable to rein in the random feel of it all...Malone is fun to watch, but Lopresti and Spina lack any sort of chemistry, so the central romance feels flat and dull, zapping any energy from the play." Full Review

Absorbing, Exquisite, Must see, Refreshing, Artful

See it if you enjoy plays that provide ample food for thought with spectacular sets and costumes.

Don't see it if you prefer musicals.

Also This heartfelt play should be lauded from the rooftops. A trenchant an... Read more Read less

Epic, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Masterful

See it if You want to be entertained and enjoy excellent acting by an extraordinary ensemble and enjoy moderate pacing in story telling.

Don't see it if You want a fast and one dimensional comedy experience.

Also This is not a story about Eleonora Duse. Not sure why that is mentione... Read more Read less

During previews
Thought-provoking, Profound

See it if You want a good twist, and are interested in the way real life directly affects the art we make

Don't see it if You're looking for something uproarious

During previews
Clever, Great acting, Quirky, Great staging, Well researched

See it if You enjoy theater history and historical characters, if you are interested in the period when modern theater was about to begin.

Don't see it if You are more interested in music and entertainment than in a more complex plot.

Also I enjoyed the play, the wonderful staging and and the beautiful little... Read more Read less

During previews
Clever, Thought-provoking, Refreshing, Entertaining

See it if you like old-fashioned theater, highly energized actors, interesting history.

Don't see it if you expect a very comedic production, there are funny moments but it is not a comedy in spite of the clowns.

During previews
Ibsen at his heels, italian playwright yields to modernism

See it if you love theater history. Italy's leading actress and playwright/lover pressured to improve the play, or producer will go with Ibsen instead

Don't see it if you have no interest in how theater is made. Script is talky but it suits the fine Irish actors. The set is a coup de theatre in itself.

During previews
Ambitious, Great acting, Quirky, Great staging, Interesting costumes

See it if you enjoy shows about theatre and like to laugh at "inside" jokes.

Don't see it if ensemble performances don't appeal to you.

During previews
Funny, Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if Very entertaining with good acting and drama

Don't see it if You don't like wordy plays

During previews
Great acting, Intelligent, Slow

See it if You like show's about the behind the scenes of theatre

Don't see it if You don't like a plot that starts off strong then gets very dragged out and boring come the second act.

During previews
Clever, Romantic, Slow, Dated, Entertaining

See it if you are interested in play that look at the mechanics of putting on a play, or in late 19th century European culture.

Don't see it if you find plays that examine the business of playmaking too inbred to be of interest except to theater professionals

Also I love theater, & enjoyed “Imperfect Love,” a play about making theate... Read more Read less

During previews
Funny, Absorbing, Ambitious, Insipid, Overrated

See it if I liked part 1. It was funny and quirky. Still a work a process but enjoyed the direction it was going in. The set up took a bit long though

Don't see it if You need a polished play with finished edges.

During previews
Funny, Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Confusing

See it if You like period play within a play shows, and want to laugh

Don't see it if You have trouble following a lot of details

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you enjoy a play about drama within a drama. The acting is very good except for the playwright/poet who doesn't enunciate. Very nice set.

Don't see it if you want a polished play. This needs some finishing touches and a better actor for the playwright.

Also I loved the sets especially the second act's which was very appropriat... Read more Read less

During previews
Funny, Disappointing, Slow, Great staging

See it if Love the time period, had entertaining parts, some of the actor were good, some were great. Very nice theater.

Don't see it if Did not see never connection between the lead actors. Little slow, but entertaining

During previews
Absorbing, Delightful, Intelligent, Romantic, Entertaining

See it if Like period pieces, with a Shakespearean overtones. Performed in an off,off, Broadway production, was wonderfully done.

Don't see it if Don't like period pieces, don't like plays without a purpose.

During previews
Great acting, Slow

See it if like seeing a play up close enjoy conversational plays

Don't see it if looking for fast paced musical

Also good but a bit long -- the actors are all high caliber

During previews
Great acting

See it if like great acting and don't mind long wordy plays. beautiful stage interesting costumes

Don't see it if looking for fun edgy comptemory plays its too drawn out. repetive lines that imo didn't add.

Also its listed as a comedy. except for occasional lines it wasn't funny th... Read more Read less

During previews
Great acting, Confusing, Slow

See it if you like dramas with a little comedy here & there.

Don't see it if you are looking for a really funny comedy or a lively musical.

Also We liked it, but didn't love it. The acting was good, we really enjoye... Read more Read less

During previews
Great acting, Disappointing, Slow, Great staging, Wanting

See it if You like period plays and know that all comedies are not funny.

Don't see it if Want an engrossing story line or witty repartee

During previews
Funny, Raunchy, Slow

See it if You enjoy less modern plays with no music.

Don't see it if You like to be totally absorbed and entertained

During previews
Disappointing, Slow, Great staging, Monotonous, Definitely in progress

See it if you want to learn more about the Duse so oft mentioned in theatre circles, and if you want to see a lovely theatre in the depths of the EV.

Don't see it if You need snappy dialogue or a story that doesn't seem endless.

Also I so much wanted to love this piece! This is a work in progress, and n... Read more Read less

During previews
Banal, Confusing, Disappointing, Insipid, Slow

See it if you love the story and enjoy the ambiance of an Off Broadway production downtown

Don't see it if a production that generates no life or fever disappoints you, swallowed dialog frustrates your concentration

During previews
Disappointing, Slow

See it if You are curious about a beautiful old theatre space very far east on the lower east side.

Don't see it if You're interested in theatre that crackles with life, action, and characters with whom you can really connect.

During previews
Unconvincing script - it's not really finished, Great staging at low budget venue, Cristina spina is terrific despite material

See it if If you look for the potential and not the fault in productions Brandon Cole has not finished developing this idea - could be much stronger

Don't see it if One weak performance will ruin it for you Honestly I wonder if the male lead is intentionally botching it - to prove an argument in the plot

Also A program note from Brandon Cole explains that he redrafted in 2016 in... Read more Read less

During previews
Ambitious, Romantic, Disappointing, Overrated, Slow

See it if You want to see great old glories come together to do a project.

Don't see it if You are looking for a fora direction that elevates the great writing moments. Or if you are looking to see soarkles veteeen the two leads.

Cast & Creatives (9)