Saturday, September 26, 2009
Fringe NYC Encore Series: A Contemporary American's Guide to a Successful Marriage © 1959
Its title may be annoyingly long and hard to remember, but don't let that deter you. A Contemporary American's Guide to a Successful Marriage © 1959, directed by Adam Fitzgerald, manages the difficult task of taking a satirical look at the 50s while still providing characters three-dimensional enough to make you care what happens to them.
The Marriage Play, for short, is playing at the Soho Playhouse as part of the Fringe Encore series.
The play takes a look at the courtship and marriage of two very different couples. Abby (a scene-stealing Autumn Hurlbert) and Mason (Lee Aaron Rosen) are virginal high school sweethearts seemingly straight out of Leave It To Beaver. Danny (A.J. Shively) meets the older and more experienced Ruth (Meredith Forlenza) in college and they hastily marry after an unexpected pregnancy. In the style of social guidance films of the 50s, the hilarious Chris Henry Coffey narrates the action and interacts with the characters, guiding them through their marriages. Hurlbert's facial expressions are priceless as he coaches Abby and Mason through their wedding night.
Though the play is laugh-out-loud funny, playwright Robert Bastron has written four characters who really try to make their marriages work. Even Ruth, the least likable, has a tender moment when she sincerely apologizes to her husband. The narrating wisely cuts out during the more serious scenes as both of the marriages fall apart.
At two intermission-less hours, the play could use a little tightening. For example, a scene in which Ruth and Danny's daughter Evelyn (Miranda Jackel) learns about divorce from the narrator is adorable, but extraneous.
You still have time to catch The Marriage Play at the Fringe. The last performance is this Sunday at 1. However, due to the positive buzz it received, I wouldn't be surprised if it shows up again soon.