A-

 

Hoo-rah!

  • Very cool, well-executed concept– the first act is separated into three stories at three different points in a single marriage. Based on which ‘room’ you start in, you see the order of events as (1,2,3), (2,3,1), or (3,1,2). I saw it as 2,3,1. Interesting to have your information/questions dependent on the order in which you take in information– definitely a tightrope walk, but it works. The second act opens the three mini-theaters into one large theater-in-the-round and we see all the actors together carrying on the rest of the story. Seems symbolic of the dissolution of the marriage ‘opening up the world’ to them.
  • Exceptional acting all around.
  • Elegant use of ‘their song’ being played at the same time during Act 1 in both scene 1 and scene 3, but with different a effect on each of those moments.
  • A few times, though not as many as I would have liked, the dialogue from a scene in a different room had a wonderful poignancy in the room you were currently in. This was all the more effective if you had already seen the scene of the ‘ghost dialogue’ and therefore could imagine the character actually remembering that moment in their lives. If the scene was in the future, it became a strange bit of foreshadowing. If you as the audience hadn’t seen the scene yet, the dialogue you were overhearing became a tantalizing mystery.
    • Because we heard in a couple scenes about how much Marianne’s mother affected the relationship, it was a lovely choice to give us a conversation with her. The actress (name) playing her (who also did a wonderful job in Act 1 Scene 2 as Mrs. Jacobi), brought across the perfect mix of a loving mother that’s always wanted to see her child behave in a certain way.
    • ‘You disgust me!’ from scene 1 during a quiet moment in scene 3, well timed.
    • Seeing the end of a the relationship in a kind of flash forward– the scene 3 version of the couple at the end of the marriage walking by the scene 1 version of the couple. Particularly fitting after Johan brings up the notion that he couldn’t ever imagine cheating on her.
    • I liked hearing first in Scene 3 that Mark and Eva? are still together, then seeing Scene 1 and seeing that they seemed on the verge of divorce.
  • Whether it was intentional or not, I enjoyed interpreting the second act as an exploration of memory. We get three different ‘ages’ of Johan and Marianne interacting with all the different ages of the other one (sometime to orgiastic effect). I like to think that even when you’re older, you might still vividly remember what the younger version of both you and your partner were like, and that’s what I took from this.
  • Again, with my wife and I’s interpretation of this having a large ‘memory’ component, opening the second act with everyone on stage and the lines being repeated 3 time by the 3 different actors for each part–  I thought this worked beautifully. People remember their younger selves, so even though this was all taking place after the 3 events of the first act, it felt right to have the youngest iteration of Marianne and Johan played right alongside the oldest version of them. Having some of the more emotionally charged moments repeated 3 times in a row actually brought me to the tears at one point, each repetition bringing a new wave of that emotion on top of the old one.
  • It was 3.5 hours long, yet never dragged, and always kept me engaged. In fact, I would have loved to see additional scenes. That’s a good sign.

Blech…

  • There’s a weird final ‘interpretative dance’ thing at the end to a song from the original Thomas Crown Affair soundtrack, and it just didn’t do anything for me. So the ending felt odd.
  • Confusing timeline– in Scene 1 we’re told that they’ve been married for 10 years, and they seem to both be at most, 35 years old. In Scene 3, we can assume it’s five years later since, in the second act they celebrate their 20th anniversary and that’s supposed to be an additional 5 years. But actor playing the oldest iteration of Johan is 60 years old. So if they got married when they were about 25, then the very oldest we ever see Johan is 45. And in Scene 3 he should only be about 40. Hm. Not a huge problem to have a 60 year old man playing a 40 year old man, but I did find it distracting since the duration of their relationship is important.
  • Some missed opportunities in the first act where the volume levels of the scenes you’re not witnessing drowned out the action of the scene you’re watching, to the point of not being able to focus on the moment.
  • While in the spirit of the play it makes sense to have the actors of different ages interacting with the older/younger versions of the other, there was a noticeable lack of chemistry between all of the ‘mismatched’ pairings.
  • Strange set design choices, mostly for scene 2, which looked like a day care. Also the shared center area was strange. It just looked so technical in there, like there’s some kind of sci-fi component to the whole story (which of course there wasn’t) and I’m not sure what we were supposed to get out of seeing the characters from all three scenes occupy the same space offstage.

 

Scenes from a Real Marriage:

During Act 2, there was an older gentleman sitting in front my wife and I who needed the help of a hearing aid. However, his device was malfunctioning, and starting early in Act 2 it began to give off a high-pitched screech. His wife told him to turn it off, and he ignored her. A gentleman behind him tapped him on the shoulder, and was promptly ignored. The older man fumbled with the thing a bit but had no luck. Finally, his wife began hitting him on the shoulder with the program, punctuating each hit with words: “You! Are! Disturbing! The entire! Theater!” . Scene 2 Johan, Dallas Roberts,  took on the heroic task of trying to help the man while staying in character, but ultimately had to give up. this continued a couple times throughout the act, and it was distracting/frustrating/enraging/sad.