Who are we and what do we really want?
By Kay Kipling
Two plays now on view each have something to say about the way we present ourselves, the way we really are, and the difficulty of navigating our way between those two worlds.
The Blue Window
The first, The Blue Window, is by Craig Lucas (Prelude to a Kiss), presented by the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training. At its outset, we see seven 30-something New Yorkers preparing to attend—or in the case of Libby, to host—a dinner party. It’s Libby’s first party in years, and she’s nervous, a condition not helped when she has a dental mishap just before the guests are due to arrive. When the party does begin, she’s left to mumble occasionally from behind her fingers while the others engage in the sort of idle party chatter that’s typical for a crowd that includes a writer (Jessie Blue Gormezano), her lesbian lover (Karis Danish), a musician (Juan Javier Cardenas), his quiet girlfriend (Jennifer Ryan Perry Logue), Libby’s gay friend from group therapy (Matt Brown) and Norbert, a skydiving aficionado (Marcus Denard Johnson).
The talk is fast and furious, but the mood shifts greatly after the party is over, everyone returns to their homes, and Libby (Julie Lachance) is left to tell a sad, true story to Norbert. If we’re originally a bit impatient with these people, we are in the end (after 70 intermissionless minutes) left touched by their loneliness, their attempts to reach out, and their desire to find some sort of honesty and beauty in their lives.
A Marriage Minuet
A Marriage Minuet, onstage at Florida Studio Theatre, is a lighter, more sophisticated comedy, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t tell some truths about human behavior. In a style that’s both classic and contemporary, playwright David Wiltse uses stage asides and projected surtitles (many of which are very funny) to take us through the twists and turns of the interrelationships of two married couples and a female object of desire who plays several roles.
Douglas (Paul Hebron) and Rex (Jason O’Connell) are both writers, but there the similarity ends. Doug is fanatically faithful to his wife, convinced that it’s only the presence of morality that imparts meaning to our lives; Rex is a serial philanderer for whom it’s all about the conquest. When Rex’s wife, Violet (Stacey Scotte) decides she has a yen for Doug, and Rex begins to pursue Doug’s wife, Lily (Amy McKenna), it becomes a complicated dance, one in which the characters are more honest with us than they are with each other or even themselves.
Even if you’ve never been unfaithful to a spouse or even contemplated it (come on, now), you should find plenty of opportunity for rueful recognition here, especially as Doug becomes more comically tortured about how to respond to Violet’s overtures. Here again the running time is short (a little over 90 minutes with intermission), the pacing fast, with Wiltse’s wit and the strong cast bound to make you laugh.
For tickets to The Blue Window, call 351-8000 or visit asolo.org; for tickets to A Marriage Minuet, call 366-9000 or visit fst2000.org.