Megan Adair, Scott Davis, Neill Brewer, Heather Green, Spencer Korcz, Gerry Rose, & Susan Linville. Photo: Bill Brymer
How To Transcend A Happy Marriage
By Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Tony Prince
A review by Keith Waits
Entire contents are copyright © 2022 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
Two married couples, George (Susan Linville) and Paul (Gerry Rose), and Jane (Heather Green) and Michael (Scott Davis), close friends, discuss polyamory because a new temp in Jane’s office, Pip (Megan Adair), is involved in a menage a trois relationship with two men, David (Neill Brewer) and Freddie (Spencer Korcz).
For a New Year’s Eve party, they invite Pip, David, and Freddie, where, with the aid of some hash brownies the discussion inhibitions fall away and the two couples discover a new reality…or unreality?
How to Transcend a Happy Marriage blurs the lines of monogamy and reality, moving into the territory of magic realism and onstage sexual encounters that are surprsingly tasteful for being so overt.
The first act is a masterful build of introductions and shifting relationship dynamics that ends in a moment that should be more shocking but is made to feel exactly right by playwright Sarah Ruhl and director Tony Prince. While each actor brings their individual character fully to life, they move as an ensemble in a kind of choreography of human friendship, adroitly exchanging the focus.
After intermission there are slight shifts in tone and specific incidents occur that move Ruhl’s play past the brilliant comedy that is has been up until that point and settles into a refreshing realization of moral flexibility.
The cast works together beautifully, but Megan Adair and Susan Linville are the linchpin in the narrative, expertly navigating an exploration of the contrasts and similarities between the to women. Adair is fearless in the freedom of her movement while Linville seems pensive and contained but wanting to break out.
There is also Neill Brewer’s intentionally roaming accent, one exchange Italianate and the next Slavic, because David “doesn’t recognize nationalities” and is a citizen of the world. It is a telling note of absurdity. And Nick Schaffner arrives in two climactic scenes as Jane and Michael’s daughter, indicating an edgy sardonic kid who already sees her parents as something other than normal.
Ruhl uses George as a narrator, speaking the themes directly to the audience in direct language. I think she is trying to avoid easy moralizing about the idea of expanding our traditional concepts of love and human connection. At least in this production, any association with neo-hippie counter-culture is also narrowly avoided, so that the concepts come to the audience refreshingly free of stereotypiocal cultural baggage. Draw your one conclusions.
Featuring Megan Adair, Neil Brewer, Scott Davis, Heather Green, Spencer Korcz, Susan Linville, Gerry Rose, Nick Schaffner
How To Transcend A Happy Marriage
March 24, 25, 26, 31, April 1 & 2 @ 7:30 pm
March 27 & April 3 @ 2:00 pm
Tickets are $22 day of the show or $20 in advance at https://TheLiminalPlayhouse.org.
The Liminal PlayhouseThe Henry Clay Theatre
604 S. 3rd Street,
Louisville, KY 40202
Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of LVA’s Artebella On The Radio on WXOX 97.1 FM / ARTxFM.com, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in LEO Weekly, Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.