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Christian Achkar and Paige Fleger played the leading roles in "Love in Reserve."

The audience at “Love in Reserve” was emotional while watching the gut-wrenching premiere of Eric Mansfield’s play.

The play is a romance-drama that takes place in Ohio and follows a newly married military couple, Kate and Ray, as Ray is deployed to Iraq. Mansfield has worked on this project for over five years and was inspired by his own experience as a veteran.

“It was originally scheduled to debut in 2020,” Mansfield said. “It's great that people now have a chance to come and enjoy this drama and I think we need to get back to live performances whether it's concerts, theater or musicals.”

The stage was set with dim lighting creating an intimate atmosphere in the theatre, connecting the audience to the actors. The set embodied an early 2000's military base apartment, complete with a vintage television set, wallpaper and kitchen appliances. 

The three-person show portrayed the life of a military family by displaying mutual emotions of fear, separation and anguish. Leading actors Paige Fleger and Christian Achkar showcased raw on-stage chemistry throughout the play. Fleger’s character became vulnerable as she cried mourning the absence of her husband.

Although this is a story about a military couple, Mansfield believes anyone can connect to the story. 

“You don’t have to be in the military to embrace this story, but if you are military I think you'll be able to connect to it in a completely different way,” Mansfield said. 

The show also had a comedic side which allowed Mansfield and the audience members to share laughter together from the audience. 

After the show, Mansfield spoke with audience members where many congratulated him and discussed how touching the piece was. One woman took a selfie with the playwright. 

Mansfield said he was pleased with the audience turn out despite his showtime conflicting with the Cleveland Browns game. 

Currently, Mansfield is working on two more projects, one focusing on a mixed-race family in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. 

“It's nice to see the theaters, read them and say we want to produce them,” Mansfield said. “So, as a playwright, I'm very fortunate.”

“Love In Reserve” will be playing at Rubber City Theatre on weekends Nov. 12 - 14 and 18 - 20. Tickets, showtimes and more information are available at https://www.rubbercitytheatre.com/

Jordan Coleman covers the arts and entertainment. Contact her at jcolem39@kent.edu.

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