"Boston Marriage" tells the story of two aging, single women in pursuit of their own different versions of satisfaction. Anna is a melodramatic and materialistic narcissist who is reveling in a newfound male benefactor. Claire is a strong woman with a biting sense of humor and a weakness for the whims of her heart, or more to the point, her loins.
As each jockey for the other’s attention and help in maintaining their current fortune, often interrupted by Anna’s slightly dimwitted maid Catherine, they repeatedly show how hideous each of their personalities truly are, as well as how perfect for each other these two women are.
This show was elaborately hilarious from the first moment to the last. It wasn’t the type of humor that elicits howls and screams of laughter as much as it brings about a constant smile and chuckle. There isn’t so much a build up to large jokes as there is a meticulous attention to humorous conversation.
Each word seems to have been placed carefully and intentionally. In fact it was a tighter, more deliberate script than I have seen in recent memory, and such a thing cannot go unappreciated. I spent half of the show just wishing I could write down quip after quip to reference later, which I believe is one of the highest praises that can be bestowed on a comedy.
Even more than the fabulous script, heaps of praise must be thrown on the ladies of this show. A rapidfire comedic script is never the easiest thing to pull off well, and certainly not "Boston Marriage’s." Beyond their acrobatics in this aspect of the show, I was amazed how perfectly their every move seemed to enhance the show. All of them skilled actresses, they exemplified the comedic acting of 1812 Productions perfectly (sometimes perhaps a bit too much so, but honestly as long as I am kept laughing, who can harp on such a thing?).
Suzanne O’Donnell as Anna kept her breathless, exasperated histrionics going for the entire show and had the crowd roaring with nearly every facial movement, particularly every time Anna’s maid appeared.
Catherine the maid was appropriately played by Caroline Dooner as a vacant, lowly woman with a consistent confusion surrounding her.
Finally, the extremely talented and always entertaining Grace Gonglewski as Claire couldn’t have been better opposite O’Donnell’s shrieks and tantrums. Gonglewski was all of the sly barbs and false airs that her character required and shone bright in the show despite much of the light being thrown O’Donnell’s way.
I must urge anyone who enjoys comedic theatre to put this on their must-do list. 1812 Productions proves once again the range of shows they offer. While some of their past productions have been huge misses for me, others have been delightful surprises.
But "Boston Marriage" is hands-down my favorite of their shows this season and is a fantastic opportunity to appreciate the art of comedic theatre by true professionals.
"Boston Marriage" runs through May 20 at Plays & Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Street in Philadelphia. For info or tickets call 215-735-0630 or visit www.playsandplayers.org