Corrections or additions?
This review by Joan Crespi was prepared for the
September 22, 2004 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights
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
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
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
– 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.
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