United Players of Vancouver
Venue: Jericho Arts Centre
Reviewer: Jane Penistan
Director Michael Fera Set :Ale Mohtashami Costume design Sandi McDonald Jewellery design Darius Bebel, Alexandra RojekSound design: Jesse Frank Lighting design Kevin Nimmo Stage Manager: Laura Dodwell- Groves
Michael Fera directs this Canadian premiere which opened at Jericho Arts Centre on Friday June 4th. In a well designed circular set, redolent of turn of the century upper class urban America, the three cast members moved with all the grace demanded by their elaborate costumes. Both the set and the clothes were colourful and in keeping with the textual references of the play.
Anna, owner of the comfortable establishment, eagerly awaits the return of her friend from a short absence. She has surprises for this friend, but so has her friend, Claire, for her. Tanja Dixon-Warren as Anna and Laura White as Claire, vie with each other in recounting their latest affairs.
Anna is wearing an ostentatiously valuable emerald necklace, the gift of her current admirer, whose wealth has enabled her to redecorate the house in what she thinks is to her friend's taste. Claire seeks a place of security and privacy in Anna's home to continue her affair with her latest young amour. Half concealed, jealousy and envy underlie the genteel and not so genteel verbal exchanges between these two women.
Meanwhile, the every day running of the household is ignored and the down to earth practical details of this, presented by the despised maid, Catherine, are dismissed as trivial and inconsiderable. Yet it is Catherine, beautifully played by Melanie Waldren, who is the one really practical and compassionate human being.
David Mamet's biting wit and crisp dialogue are both funny and revealing. The two ladies might have made more of the histrionics demanded by the script and thus emphasized the genuine emotion which underlies these scenes. The utter despair which both women face is contrasted with the optimism and humanity displayed by the unappreciated Catherine, whose knowledge of the real world astonishes the two sheltered, not-quite-in-this-world ladies.
Michael Fera has elected to run the three short acts of the play without intermission. Unfortunately, on opening night, much of the dialogue was not delivered at the breakneck speed which Mamet texts demand. And in places, the production tended to drag. This may have been due to opening night tension.
The scene in which Catherine informs the two ladies about India was perhaps the most successful. Here there was a variation of pace, besides the revelation of the wisdom of their hitherto disregarded servant.
This is an amusing and interesting presentation and Jericho Arts Centre should be proud of its ability to present the Canadian premiere of this entertaining work.
Boston Marriage runs at the Jericho Arts Centre, 1675 Discovery Street, June 4 - 27, 2004, Thursday through Saturday at 8.00 p.m. For information, tickets and reservations telephone 604- 224-8007, or visit www. united players.com
© 2003, Jane Penistan