Sunday, July 13, 2008

At the Theater: The Marriage of Bette and Boo

The Marriage of Bette and Boo, a play by Christopher Durang, has returned to New York and opened tonight at the Laura Pels Theatre. I was lucky enough to attend an advance performance Friday night and I'm happy to report that it was well worth it.

The dark comedy, consisting of 33 scenes, revolves around the disintegration of the title characters' marriage. The dialogue is sharp, the characters and action border on the absurd. But somewhere beneath the film references and constant referrals to the likes of Thomas Hardy, there is something very poignant and real about what the audience gets to see onstage. While some of the characters often seem shrill and one-note, there are some moments where audience members will be able to identify and even sympathize with them. Kate Jennings Grant — in the role of Bette — is magnificent in emphasizing this aspect of the play, especially in a few key scenes where she exposes the vulnerabilities lying beneath her "nagging housewife" exterior.

In fact, this production's cast displays a tremendous amount of acting chops and rightfully so, considering some of their past experience. Cast members include John Glover, who is delightfully wicked while playing the part of Boo's rather unsavory father, as well as a hilarious Terry Beaver — whose television credits include Profiler and Law & Order — in a double role.

The Marriage of Bette and Boo isn't likely to receive the blustery fanfare that major theatrical productions receive in this day and age, but it's perfect for those who want to watch something smart and more small scale.

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