BWW Review: THE MARRIED NAME at Counter-Productions Theatre
Counter-Productions Theatre Company is presenting the world premiere of Kevin Broccoli's THE MARRIED NAME this weekend at AS 220's Black Box Theatre, 95 Empire St in Downtown Providence. Broccoli is a very talented actor, playwright, and artistic director of Epic Theatre in Cranston. In an uninterrupted hour and twenty minutes, THE MARRIED NAME deals with four men getting together for dinner a short time before the wedding of two of them. Rex and Dan are planning this wedding and encountering problems that probably should have been dealt with earlier. Kevin Broccoli can write funny.
Okay, what's to like? First of all, Katie Russel's set is lovely: and abstract rug, a small dining room table with chairs that are almost works of modern art all in muted tones with red napkins the only splashes of color (this is the kind of thing you would do if you had taste.) The play is done in the round, so the artwork on the walls is behind the audience in two rows of seats all around-the whole effect is to make the audience members feel like so many flies on the wall.
How about play itself? That was pretty good, too. Justin Pimental as Rex and Adam Preston as Dan play the married couple, and they seem to be under as much stress as any straight couple you might encounter. They have invited their friends Ethan (Luis Manaya) and Al (Ryan Levorone) to join them for dinner, and these two create a lot of trouble, both intentionally (mostly Ethan) and innocently (mostly Al). In the talkback after the performance on Saturday, Broccoli made a reference to Moonlighting. The Bruce Willis--Cybil Shepherd television series from the late 80's, and you can see the influence in the way he had his characters talk over each other, especially in the early going. It worked for the most part, but I felt like I missed some of the dialogue. The cast was mostly pretty smooth, but I thought Minaya's Ethan had the lion's share of the good lines as his character seemed most inclined to stir up trouble.
What Broccoli has done is to imagine a combination of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and His Girl Friday, the Cary Grant/Rosalind Russell screen version of Ben Hecht and Charles McArthur's The Front Page. It's a screwball comedy that turns very dark but has a happy ending. That describes a lot of Shakespeare's comedies, doesn't it? The humor comes from the semi-snide comments that the characters, especially Evan, toss at one another; the darkness comes from the pain and discomfort many of those same comments cause. The ending felt a little hollow to me, and the play felt a little long, but Broccoli is a talented guy whose work needs to be supported. This play has its moments and moments when you wish there were a few fewer moments. I felt kind of that way about Virginia Woolf.
On a sad note, Counter-Productions is calling it a day after fifteen years. This will be their last season at AS 220. Last season I saw their excellent production od Waiting for Godot and playwright David Eliet's LE DERNIER REPAS: A LOVE STORY, and both were excellent. On a happier note, THE MARRIED NAME runs this weekend at 7:00 on Friday and Saturday and 2:00. Tickets are $20.00 and can purchased at www.cptcri.com.