DeKALB — It can be challenging to describe human emotion in words, but David Schulner's play "An Infinite Ache" follows the long-term relationship of one couple in an attempt to make a larger statement about love.
The NIU School of Theatre and Dance-sponsored The Third Onion will present "An Infinite Ache" Nov. 16 through 18 in the Stevens Building Corner Theatre on the DeKalb campus.
The two-person play takes place in the one room most often kept private: the bedroom.
The room goes through as many changes as the couple living in it. The audience watches as the two characters move through first date, marriage and childbirth. The play moves rapidly and seamlessly from one stage of the relationship to the next, spanning five decades in an hour and 10 minutes.
Actor Brandon Greenhouse said the play explores the redemptive power of love.
“At the end of the day, it conquers all,” he said.
Co-star Kendra Holton Helton said the play offers a realistic representation of relationships.
“I think, for me, it's embracing the messiness, because love is messy,” Helton said.
The Third Onion, a student-initiated production scheme created in 2005, puts on a series of shows not funded by NIU. Greenhouse and Helton described it as an opportunity for students to explore their own way of working on pieces they're passionate about. "An Infinite Ache" is almost entirely self-directed by the actors.
“I found the play, and then I just fell in love with it,” Greenhouse said. “It seemed to capture a really important part of human existence. I thought it sort of struck me as being really profound without being pretentious.”
Greenhouse and Helton were responsible for assembling a crew to produce the show. Although it placed more responsibility on them than studio or mainstage series shows, the end result is rewarding, Greenhouse said.
A two-character show can be intimidating to an actor, but Greenhouse said the level of difficulty depends on the show, and working with Helton was natural.
“There is something that's really nice about the level of intimacy,” he said.
Both Greenhouse and Helton were drawn to the play because they could easily identify with the characters.
“I hope people will see something of themselves in the show,” Helton said.
'An Infinite Ache'
10 p.m. Nov. 16-18
Corner Theatre, Stevens Building, Northern Illinois University
Tickets are $3 and available only at the door