TWO INTIMATE Plays Dorothy Strelsin Theatre, Now thru 6/9

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Men will sit on one side of the house and women will sit on the other for TWO INTIMATE, an evening of EDEN by Eugene O'Brien and THE LOVER by Harold Pinter, presented by Cat on my Head Productions, LLC from tonight, May 24 to June 9 at Dorothy Strelsin Theatre at Abingdon Theatre Complex, 312 West 36th Street. Tickets are $25.

The psychology of married couples toward infidelity will be on display and the seating plan will accentuate the differing perceptions. The plays will be acted by Dan Patrick Brady and Anna Emily Wood. Kathy Gail MacGowan directs.

EDEN by Eugene O'Brien (Ireland) depicts one weekend during the marriage of an Irish couple who haven't been intimate in years. Breda has dropped some of the weight that's always troubled her and intends to sweep her husband, Billy, off his feet down at the local disco. Billy has other plans: he's fixated on Imelda, the nubile daughter of their friends, the Egans, and dreams to resurrect his self-image by bedding her. As they exchange monologues, we experience the tragedy of their "just missed" possibility of redemption as they fail to re-connect once and for all. The play is distinguished by its peculiar, soaring argot. It premiered at The Abbey Theatre in 2000 and won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature in 2003. Playwright Eugene O'Brien adapted the play into a film in 2008. Directed by Declan Recks and starring Eileen Walsh, it was nominated for the European Film Academy Awards in 2008.

THE LOVER is Pinter's 1962 play in which a refined suburban couple invigorates their aseptic marriage by role-playing infidelity. At first, it seems there are three characters in the play: the wife, Sarah, her husband, Richard, and her lover, Max. But the third of these is ultimately revealed to be the husband, posing as the interloper. It's a smooth arrangement until the husband--first as the lover, then as himself--tries to stop the game. In the Pinter tradition, this piece is neither an ironic comedy nor a cheeky drama--it is both.

Each play explores the psychological dance of marriage and intimacy. In EDEN, Breda is wounded by Billy's neglect and any woman will identify with it, just as any man will identify with the temptation that Billy seeks as a means of escape from her. (So maybe it's a good thing that they won't be sitting together.) THE LOVER presents the more complex problem of a couple who cannot communicate, emotionally or sexually, outside their ritual game. The lasting impact of the twin plays will be to exhort couples to be honest with themselves.

Photo by Jonathan Slaff.




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