Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this



By Kathy Carpenter

Reviewer for

May 12, 2019 (La Mesa) - "It is February 1928. And it is the last year of each of the Fail Sisters' lives." Grossmont College Presents "Failure: A Love Story," directed by Brian Rickel. In the opening scene for the first time on stage, this production announces the death of the three sisters. One by a blunt object, one by disappearance and one by consumption.

Normally I would hate this and probably wasn't pleased when I heard about the deaths upfront. However, after viewing the play, I'm sort of glad they did it this way. Or I might might have thought each love to be lasting love.

Mortimer Mortimer falls is love three times. Once with each Fail sister. Yes, it's a deep and everlasting love, even though he has each sister a short time. This is a story about time, the most precious gift you can give someone no matter how short.  Mortimer falls in love with Nelly Fail, the youngest and most beautiful, at first sight. They have everything in common and grow more in love each day. After the tragic loss of Nelly, Mortimer was ready to give up until Jenny June gave him a reason to live, to coach her. Spending every day together, they fell in love. When he and Gertrude lost Jenny June, Gertrude got consumption trying to save her sister. Mortimer stayed by her side day and night nursing her. Gertrude had been the first sister he met and he realizes he always loved her.

The sister also has a brother they worry about because he's not good with people. They ask Mortimer to care for him. When Gertrude is gone, Mortimer lives with the brother. They live out their lives together also realizing their love for each other. Based on the notion "...marriage is a classification for two people who are very, very, very, good friends, forever."

The story is told in the third person. At first, it was confusing and the actors were speaking of signing fast. As time passed, they slowed down, the story became clear and you were compelled to find out what happens to each sister.

Mortimer was my favorite character. You could not help but love the guy, played by Jeruel Canda. My favorite sister, Jenny June, was the eternal optimist, played by Alexa Wolfe. Gertrude, played by Elaina Covert, was the practical, follow in your parents' footprints type. Nelly, Adelaida Martinez, the youngest, was loved by all. Bella Synder did a fabulous job as the gramophone and had a beautiful voice. She sang a capella and sounded like an angel. The rest of the cast each played animals and clocks, difficult but mastered by these wonderful actors who were also the chorus.

The stage construction crew outdid themselves. The backdrop is a clock shop. On the walls were many clocks and empty frames and a blue wall.  In front of the wall was a wooden platform, which served as a second story. At the end of the platform were large barrels. Sort of reminded me of a dock. They were by a river.

The costumes and the music was period appropriate: "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" was the beautiful song repeated by the gramophone each time someone died.

It would mean the world to these college actors for you to give them some time.

Failure: A Love Story

Stagehouse Theatre

Grossmont College

Thurs. - Sun. May 15th - 18th

(619) 644-7234

Next up: Summer Conservatory

Disney's The Little Mermaid


Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.