Love in the Time of Corona isn’t the first piece of lockdown art to play on the novel Love in the Time of Cholera, and it probably won’t be the last! Despite the clichéd title, I started watching with an open mind. In this monologue we meet Jake (Ivan Comisso) through a tablet screen, hearing reflections on his life as lockdown progresses. To be completely honest, I don’t like Jake. From the very beginning he comes across as the stereotypical single male with mates that share ‘banter’, rugby and not much else; the type of man who boasts about having a new girl in his bed each night. It might not be a complete a surprise to learn that he is a broker in the City. Unfortunately, I didn’t warm to him at all throughout the show, despite the suggested changes to his character.
Jake is finding lockdown challenging, as do we all, but he goes so far as to suggest that this sudden change to his hedonistic lifestyle is equivalent to being castrated. At the beginning of the monologue, as well as boasting about his sexual prowess, he says some incredibly sexist and derogatory things about women. This is hard to stomach and makes liking or feeling any kind of compassion for him practically impossible. If this isn’t bad enough, later in the monologue he also reveals homophobic views. Sadly, these come out during a section about a close childhood friend’s suicide.
As lockdown moves on, cleverly demonstrated by outfit changes and repositioning to different parts of his flat, Jake meets a woman online with whom he can actually have real conversations. Unsurprisingly, this is news to him: who knew that women are capable of stimulating conversation and not just objects to warm your bed for the night? Lauren is introduced initially as a Zoom date, which he hoped would lead to some online action, but he soon realises there’s more to her than this. It is hard to believe that a woman as intelligent-sounding as Lauren would put up with someone like Jake, especially when he reveals that he has shared his homophobic views with her.
There’s the potential to address some really important issues here, such as male vulnerability; the trivial nature of some male friendships that live off banter and pints; male suicide; and poor attitudes to women by some men. However, while these are touched on, the monologue never fully examines them. They’re still throwaway comments that Jake doesn’t want to explore. Even by the end, when things have progressed with poor Lauren, he’s not a likeable character. Jake says he feels more alive than ever before with her, but it’s hard to dismiss the awful things he’s already.
This could be a powerful redemption story of a stereotypical City player having his comeuppance during the pandemic, but it never quite reaches that stage. Jake says too many awful things to be forgiven. Saying all this, Comisso does a good job of convincing me not to like Jake, but I’m not entirely clear if that was the point.
Written and Directed by: Ian Dixon Potter
Video editing by: Howard White
Original music composed and performed by: Neil Thompson
Love in the Time of Corona is available for free onYouTube, link below.