Corrections or additions?

This review by Joan Crespi was prepared for the

September 22, 2004 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights

reserved.

Review: ‘Marriage Can Be . . .’

‘Marriage Can Be Hazardous to Your Health," a comedy by

Arnold Kane now running weekends at Julie and Robert

Thick’s Off-Broadstreet Theater until October 9, is

certainly a provocative title.

Well, yeah, you might think, picturing an acrimonious

couple. On the other hand, we’re told married people live

longer – no one said "happily"! What to believe? Maybe it

means that in marriage one gets too set in one’s ways.

Here, a man, fearing old age, wants his lost youth back,

but is locked in marriage until he leaves. Meanwhile his

wife has become fixed in the stultifying ways of a female

housefrau. Maybe both need a jolt to break out.

Or, in a reverse twist, maybe the title is a superficial

play on junk food. The sexy young ingenue doing

commercials for a machine to trim abs – and thereby

soaring in her career – causes the two male characters,

her partner and his lawyer, to sneak around eating and

hiding junk food – chips and bugles mostly – so that she,

a health nut, doesn’t find out. Or maybe that’s just,

well, a red herring.

Or maybe the show’s title is a wry twist on the Thicks

themselves. The show, their 180th opening, celebrates

their 20 years of producing in this theater and their own

20 years of marriage. Obviously hazards, if any, have been

overcome in their case.

After watching this light, thoroughly entertaining show,

you might wonder about the title. No matter: the show,

comedy-lite, with its clever one liners, keeps the

audience laughing. Kane is a writer, producer, and

consultant for many television programs. First published

in 2001, the play has been produced in both the US and

Canada. It is directed by Mark Raymond, who has assembled

a generally splendid cast of veteran OBT actors and

equally fine newcomers.

The three principal characters are attractive people –

they range from cute to stunning – and are easy to watch.

The costumes, by Ann Raymond, help in the

characterizations, particularly of the two women, and

underscore, even more than the words, the change in one of

them.

The play, is set in a Manhattan apartment, and deals with

not marriage so much as women’s issues, the choice of a

career over motherhood, or motherhood over a career for

the time being, and the issue of who takes care of the

kids. (Or, as one character asks, "How does Mrs. Loman

feel?")

The play has no complex plots or sub plots; no

complexities of character. The first act is a set-up, and

it works. You’re intrigued enough to guess at the ending.

Who will Eddie Walker (Gary Van Lieu) end up with? Will it

be his young, sexy girlfriend Cindy Smith (Lauren K.

Brader), she of the curvaceous ass, whom he’s invited to

live with him in an effort to stave off his fear of old

age? Or will it be his seemingly frumpy wife Diana (Kelly

Lake), whom he’s left. Will it be Cindy or Diana – or

neither of them? The play has a surprise ending. You

won’t find it revealed here.

It is extremely well acted, the good-looking principal

characters are enjoyable to watch, and it’s peppered with

funny, clever lines. Only Roger Billingsley (Todd P.

Gregoire) is a little too twitchy, too stereotypically

Jewish (it’s in the lines) for my taste in his first

appearance. Henpecked, afraid of his wife, he calms and is

more convincing in his second appearance. He’s more a

filler and conversation foil for Eddie, with little plot

function in his own right. But it is Roger,

straight-laced, uptight, who, at midpoint in the play,

sums up its unique, one-twist plot when he berates Eddie:

"you’re cheating on your girlfriend with your wife!"

Special mention should be made of Mrs. Valdez (Sabrina

Rose). Rose is the only one of the five-person cast who

does not have a long string of play credits to her name.

But she will have. Playing what must have started out as a

bit part to open the show, she displays excellent,

flawless comic timing. She’s the cleaning woman and,

listening to music through earphones, she does silent

bumps, grinds, and wriggles across the stage as she

vacuums while reading a magazine. That seems to be her

only function. A bit part.

But Rose, who is listed in the program as assistant to the

director, has found more to do. In her self-absorbed,

dancing actions, she provides a cleaning woman’s view that

underscores the comedy. Never speaking a word, she’s her

own silent show. Furthermore, acting as stage manager, she

comes on between scenes, adding, then removing, pictures

and pillows, finding and appropriating satin string

panties, drinking wine from glasses she has poured for

others. Tying the several scenes together, always with her

special comic flair, Rose earned her own special applause.

See this light, funny, entertaining comedy, and you will

be applauding, too, for the whole cast. And wondering some

about marriage.

– Joan Crespi

Marriage Can Be Hazardous to Your Health, Off-Broadstreet

Theater, 5 South Greenwood Avenue, Hopewell; Thursday

through Sunday; evening performances at 8 p.m., matinees

at 2 p.m. through Saturday, October 9. $23.75 to $25.25.

Call 609-466-2766.


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