Anyone who has studied theatre has been told that all that is required to mount a production are actors, space, and an audience. With theatre companies like F.A.T.E. in Cary, Haymaker in Durham, and now J&J Productions in Raleigh, Raleigh and its surrounding areas have fostered this principle now more than ever.

Comprised solely of founding actors, John Honeycutt and Jess Jones, the aptly named J&J Productions have provided yet another opportunity for Raleigh locals to experience a different kind of theatre, although minimalism with a message is quickly becoming the norm for today’s theatre scene. Raleigh Ensemble Players continue to spread their name by opening their doors to new companies seeking space, and J&J Productions could not have scored a better venue. The Appalachian mountain home setting for Romulus Linney’s Love Drunk evolved with virtually no construction necessary before the natural backdrop of REP’s brick walled studio. The set was warmly dressed with the rustic trappings of a cozy mountain home, which became more and more disrupted by the manic confrontations between characters Wilbur and Karen.

Love Drunk, based loosely on Henrik Ibsen’s The Master Builder, investigates the relationship between a young vagrant, Karen, and a much older building designer, Wilbur. Director Benjamin challenges the audience to decipher what is and what is not true about each character as Wilbur and Karen push, pull, and lie to one another in their efforts to form a connection that neither has been able to establish before. Jones brought a manic energy to Karen that filled the intimate space with her every outburst but, juxtaposed with her sudden and occasional tranquility, painted a delicate and broken character. Honeycutt’s subtle performance reveals an equal brokenness in Wilbur. While he attempts to save Karen to escape his own flagrant faults, it becomes evident that he is just as damaged as she is.

In the style of Ibsen, Romulus Linney writes characters who begin with fairly normal interaction but who quickly disintegrate into a tangle of their own humanity. Honeycutt and Jones, along with their creative team, bring life to the characters of Love Drunk as well as provide a new and important opportunity for the community to experience challenging, intimate theatre.

Love Drunk continues Thursday, December 8, through Saturday, December 11, and then Thursday, December 15, through Saturday, December 17.