The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

‘Flu Season’s’ perspective on love worth catching

Everyone enjoys a simple love story, but sometimes our desire to keep love straightforward complicates everything.

Youngblood Theatre founding member Andrew Edwin Voss plays Prologue in "The Flu Season." Photo courtesy of Megan Peters.

American playwright Will Eno’s “The Flu Season,” the latest production by Youngblood Theatre Company, is a perfect example of how a love story meant to follow a traditional arc can end up unpredictable and erratic, as life tends to be.

Youngblood places the story of four characters – simply named Man, Woman, Doctor and Nurse – as well as Epilogue and Prologue, the play’s narrators, in the vacant cafeteria of the former Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital building (now the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Northwest Quadrant Building A).

It’s a setting that fits the play. “The Flu Season” takes place in a psychiatric hospital, and the empty UWM space sets the tone perfectly. The dated pink walls, strange smell and the sense of sterile stillness all echo what one might believe a psychiatric hospital looks and feels like in the dead of winter.

It’s unlikely that a psych ward brings an opportunity for a budding romance, yet in “The Flu Season,” it’s an ideal place to force people to look at not only the characters, but also themselves and how their own relationships may relate.

With no more than four chairs strategically placed by two unknown orderlies in scrubs, the actors encompass every inch of the bare space as they act out their slightly twisted tale of reluctant love.

Right from the beginning, Eno’s narrators completely shatter the fourth wall and communicate with the audience, showing viewers the progression a work makes from the beginning to end. In between scenes when the main characters have left the stage and the lights have dimmed a bit, Epilogue and Prologue enter from right and left to interject, rearrange and contemplate every move made.

Prologue (Andrew Edwin Voss) is optimistic about the story he is putting forth, initially naming it “The Snow Romance.” His language is flowery and confident as he romanticizes his narrative of love, unfazed to the flaws that lurk in his writing. That quickly changes when Epilogue (Ken Williams) has his turn renaming the play “The Flu Season.”

Epilogue is bitter and speaks in a cold, mundane tone, only because he’s been through the frustration of trying to tell a realistic love story – he knows the end for his characters before the play even begins. Whereas act one is the start of a blooming romance created by Prologue, Epilogue tries to bring authenticity to his characters’ relationship with cruel drama in act two.

“You can’t stop loving me overnight,” says the Woman (Tess Cinpinski), with sincere hurt and confusion in her eyes. The Man (Jason Waszak) answers with an equally sincere yet detached, “I started loving you overnight.”

Moments like these let Cinpinski and Waszak pull on the audience’s heartstrings without letting go.

Though their unlikely attraction and courtship in the hustle and bustle of a psych ward seems sudden, it’s instinctive to want to believe (much like Prologue) that these two souls, lost within their own problems, could find each other in a moment of clarity.

Man and Woman seem meant for each other in a weird way, and Cinpinski and Waszak’s on-stage chemistry prove that.

“The Flu Season” shows audiences that love is not perfect, and it’s impossible to try and force it to be that way. Like life, it is wild and uncontrollable, and to witness it is just as puzzling.

“The Flu Season,” presented by Youngblood Theatre Company, runs now through March 17 at the Northwest Quadrant Building A on UWM’s campus, 3321 N. Maryland Ave. Tickets can be purchased for $15 online at and at the door. All show times are at 8:00 p.m..

Story continues below advertisement
Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

All Marquette Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *