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Two Plays about Husbands and Wives at Midtown International Theatre Festival 2007
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Two Plays about Husbands and Wives at Midtown International Theatre Festival 2007

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Midtown International Theatre Festival
Eighth Season
Exec. Producer: John Chatterton
Assoc. Producer: Theater Resources Unlimited
Managing Director: Emileena Pedigo
Marketing Director: Bob Ost
Press: Judd Hollander/Cynthia Leathers
Festival Lighting Designer: Gustavo Araoz
Venue Manager, Where Eagles Dare: Sarah Bellin
Venue Manager, WorkShop Theatre: Jonathan Jackson
Venue Manager, WorkShop Theatre: Stephanie Ward
Box Office Managers: Jenny Greeman, Colleen Jasinski
July 16, 2007-August 5, 2007

Two Plays about Husbands and Wives

The Conjugality Test
Small Pond Entertainment
By Michael Lazan
Directed by David Gautschy
Featuring: Greg Thornton, Amanda Sayle,
Warren Katz, Shaun Bennet Wilson, Jacqueline Sydney


Iím In Love with Your Wife
Changuitos Productions
(Changuitos Production Website)
By Alex Goldberg
Directed by Tom Wojtunik
Featuring: Ean Sheehy, Monica Yudovich,
Shane Jacobsen, Katie Kreisler, Ron Palillo,
Marion Wood

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 6, 2007

The Conjugality Test, by Michael Lazan, and Iím In Love with Your Wife, by Alex Goldberg, are two of the best plays in the 12 play series I chose for the MITF season. Each delved into marital and relationship issues of trust, betrayal, need, forgiveness, change, dependency, lust, and sex. Each was a full-length play, not separate vignettes, as were so many other productions, so each character remained him/her self, no double or triple characters for one actor. There was sequence, interest, delicious humor, sophisticated wit, and, oh so many quotes to relate to, that is, for those of us who have experienced relationship dilemmas. The urban ďconditionĒ floats freely in both plays, evoking unbridled laughter and real audience engagement.

The Conjugality Test, about a West Side family of four, father, David, and mother, Debs, not married, but still together, after twenty-some years, a rock-studded daughter, Baba, in black hooded clothes, who sucks lollipops and has an iPod, and Louis, Davidís live-in father, who watches television and argues incessantly. Itís also about a fifth person, who impacts on their lives, Bernice, a stunning, tall African American ďcall girlĒ, hired by a family member to test Davidís fidelity in a neighborhood bar. The action opens in the bar, with Miles Davisí smooth jazz as background. David is thrown into turmoil with his hormones flying, and then the family is thrown into turmoil, as well, as they talk too much. David and Debs analyze the merits of fidelity as if they were in therapy, but the two are longtime lovers, and they lose the bond.

The one character that seems to grow during this crisis is Baba, who really wants her parents to remain together. This intention unfolds slowly, as her attitude is so stubbornly withholding. Amanda Sayle, as Baba, is an artist to watch, as she drew me in, with her contrasting emotions, hostile and vulnerable at once. Less withholding is Louis, Babaís grandfather, whose only companions are his television and his memories. His confrontations and confessions with his son are poignant and powerful. Warren Katz makes the most of this needy character. In fact his needs for companionship and love lead him to propose something wonderful to Baba. Greg Thornton, as David, is a study in torment and thought. Heís an intellectual, a philosopher, now an insurance salesman.

Jacqueline Sydney, as Baba's mother Debs, shifts from schedule-driven Blackberry fanatic to a woman about to be scorned, and hell hath no fury like...Shaun Bennet Wilson, as Bernice, the hired consort, is sultry, sexy, and savvy. Sheís a predator extraordinaire, hired for a cause. The cast could not have been better chosen. David Gautschy directed this splendid production with expertise and seamless timing. The Conjugality Test should soon have a home in a theatre in town.

Iím In Love with Your Wife is first about Gary, who is therapy-challenged, an average guy in an office, who brags to a best friend, Paul, that his wife is so sexy. Soon, Paul and Paulís wife, Gail, brag that Garyís wife is sexy, and they both know first hand, from many intimate experiences, in every room of Garyís house. The therapist, Dr. Feldberg, needs to see this up close, so he brings another patient, Ruth, who is an actress, who dresses as an Ukrainian woman for a dinner party at Garyís house. A quasi-French farce ensues, with the door to the kitchen opening and closing on cue for each character to greet Garyís wife, as she cooks.

One confusing element is the fact that we never meet Garyís wife, but an actress, Lisa Marie Rowe, is listed, so a last minute change may have been directed. The final onstage character is Bethany, Garyís secretary, who is hot on her own trails and a riot to watch. Dr. Feldberg, played by Ron Palillo, has a strange obsession with Jon Voigt, a fact that lends itself to the notion of all shrinks being drawn to the profession through their own eccentricities. Palillo is authentic, athletic, and filled with angst. Gary, Ean Sheehy, is the least energized, a good reason for his wifeís wandering eyes. Bethany, Monica Yudovich, is an artist to watch, as are Katie Kreisler (Gail) and Marion Wood (Ruth). Shane Jacobsen, as Paul, exudes wit and lust, but the character remains dim to his wifeís duplicity. This was a truly funny farce, with smooth transitions and no time wasted. Iím In Love with Your Wife should be onstage for a much longer run soon.

Photo courtesy of Alicia Zappier

Photo courtesy of Alicia Zappier

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at