Do playwrights hate wives?
By Heidi Masek firstname.lastname@example.org
• Tito, one of the best opera singers in the world, gives a voice lesson to a Cleveland opera company assistant in a scene in Lend Me a Tenor. The two end up singing what should probably be a brilliant duet. But this is a fun farce by Ken Ludwig being performed by a community theater group. Mark Morrison, as Max, and Craig Ciampa, as Tito, lip-synched in the Nashua Theatre Guild production. (However, members of Operateurs, a group that sings opera together for fun, sang a short duet before the play, which was quite good.)
Morrison was particularly natural as Max, a put-upon assistant dating the boss’s daughter in 1934. Ciampa dove into the part of Tito, a comic caricature of a skinny Italian tenor. Tito’s wife Maria (Nancy Warner) has no patience for her husband’s antics. Jeff Richardson provided lots of laughs as the star-struck bellhop. Rich Alcott did well as the blustery, scheming father/boss, although he looked a little young for the part.
At the end, we didn’t know whether or not to clap. The stage went dark. The crew moved props around. Lights came back up, and the cast did a wordless, fast-forward reprise of the story with plenty of door-slamming on the hotel-suite set, to an Italian pop/opera recording. They must have burned lots of calories rehearsing. It was an overall entertaining evening, Thursday, Oct. 16, but Lend Me a Tenor ran only one weekend.
• Two other community groups, both staging dramas, continue runs for a second. Bedford Off Broadway has tackled Edward Albee’s Seascape. Tom Lianza, president of BOB, mentioned before the show Oct. 17 that Albee noted that all theater is absurd, not just Albee’s. Good point. Perhaps there isn’t such a stretch between sitting in a dark room watching people perform a story, and sitting in a dark room watching a story that involves talking lizards.
Seascape also had a wife who frequently seemed to lose it, but not always for entertainment. Nancy’s outbursts in part seem meant to provoke deep thought about life and relationships over time.
The other Albee show I’ve seen was A Delicate Balance, produced by the professional Merrimack Repertory Theatre. Both plays seemed to start slow, with a retired couple talking. More specifically, a wife talking, and husband trying not to.
Nancy, played by Judi Mitchell, repeatedly nags Charlie (Daniel Barth) to do “something,” as he settles into his beach chair. After years of work and raising children, he’s looking forward to doing “nothing.” Albee’s dialogue sends Nancy pondering about how doing nothing can turn a person to mush. She wonders if we are meant to end life as we began it.
Nancy goes from a nagging, buoyant wife to a sullen, philosophical one, to a show-off. The actors have to show quite a range of emotions in just the first act, including love, jealousy, anger, compassion, frustration and irritation. Fear, curiosity, brutality and rage are added to the second one.
Their initial meeting with the underwater lizard couple, Sarah (Cheri Birch) and Leslie (Scott Katrycz), makes possible some entertaining physical comedy, as Nancy and Charlie try assuming the submission pose and the lizards try to determine if the humans are friendly.
Discussions between the underwater creatures and humans lead to attempts to explain certain words. When they get to love, Charlie and Nancy have a tough time with a concrete definition. Albee has an interesting point there. Seascape runs Friday, Oct. 24, and Saturday, Oct. 25, at 8 p.m. at Bedford Old Town Hall, 70 Bedford Center Road (www.bedfordoffbroadway.com, 488-5497).
• Arthur Miller’s All My Sons presented by Milford Area Players involved yet another wife frequently getting upset. This one, Kate Keller, played by Mari Keegan, really looks like she is on her way to being committed. She has good reason. One of her sons was declared missing in World War II in this story, set in a 1947 Midwestern backyard.
Her other son, Chris Keller, played by Ryan Hagen, wants to forget about Larry and move on, which seems blasphemous. In fact, Chris wants to marry “Larry’s girl,” Ann Deever, (Kristin McGregor).
All My Sons doesn’t lack strong women. Ann is prepared for Kate’s resistance. Kate is set against the match, believing that Kate waiting for Larry is a sign that Larry is not dead. Even that doesn’t explain why Kate gets so wildly irrational. She has a worse fear than her son not coming home, it turns out.
MAP did a nice job of creating the right atmosphere for All My Sons and its 1940s lingo, using a great pre-show soundtrack, and even wrote their announcements as if it were 1947, when the play first ran. All My Sons closes with shows Friday, Oct. 24, and Saturday, Oct. 25, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 26, at 2 p.m., at the Amato Center 56 Mont Vernon St., in Milford (www.milfordareaplayers.org, 673-2258).