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One Good Marriage

Don't worry. It wouldn't happen. Not again.

Marcus Kyd and Toni Rae Brotons
M. Kyd and T. R. Brotons (Photo: Christopher O. Banks)

What do you do when, through no fault of your own, your recent marriage has resulted in a major catastrophe that destroys your history and the very fabric of your guests' lives? This is the question MetroStage asks in their U.S. premiere of Sean Reycraft's two-person play One Good Marriage. Alternating between funny and touching the piece examines what happens when a couple has what might best be described as "the ultimate wedding disaster." It's a piece that emerges from talk show voyeurism to try and put an intimate face on and see the deeper emotions that bizarre disasters distance us from experiencing.

Playwright Reycraft introduces his newlyweds, Stephanie and Stewart, on their first year wedding anniversary and from this vantage point the two share the past two years of their lives. From how they met -- each worked at the local high school in Glencoe, Ontario; she was the English teacher, he the librarian. Through their courtship -- they tried to keep it a secret, at first. To their eventual public engagement -- the students began to tease them in the halls. And finally arriving at their fateful wedding day -- forced to be held at the Glencoe Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, since annoyingly, ultra-organized Sheila Walker had already booked their first choice 26 months in advance. And then, without revealing all that their wedding day held, they take us on the past year of grief that they have been keeping company with. It's not until the end that we completely understand what has actually happened. A spiralling technique which enables the playwright to keep our interest and also to juxtapose the light banter with the touching moments when each character breaks down from stress and emotional overload.

Director John Vreeke has created a charming piece that plays extremely quickly through its 65-minute running time. The easy banter between the actors and the small gestures they make towards each other fill in the gaps to create what seems like a much larger-size production. Tracie Duncan's empty fire hall-like set brings home the void in the newlyweds' lives, as they walk around empty chairs at an anniversary party that will have no guests. Both Colin Bills' lighting and Matt Rowe's sound design add an air of comfort to the piece.

In the roles of Stephanie and Stewart, Toni Rae Brotons and Marcus Kyd shine equally. Ms. Brotons brings a perky strength to Stephanie, while Mr. Kyd employs a relaxed calmness in Stewart. Each outward, public persona belies the strain of these two people's year as they have had to face what it is like to lose your past and your present in one sweeping blow. The actors' camaraderie and chemistry carries the play on swift wings and makes the whole piece a touching delight and gem of a production.

MetroStage has extended this show twice and this is it's last week -- so see it while you can!

One Good Marriage
by Sean Reycraft
Directed by John Vreeke
starring Toni Rae Brotons, Marcus Kyd
Set Design: Tracie Duncan
Lighting Design: Colin K. Bills
Costume Design: Kate Turner-Walker
Sound Design: Matt Rowe
Running Time: 1 hour and 5 minutes with no intermission
MetroStage, 1201 North Royal Street, Alexandria, VA
Telephone: 703-548-9044
THUR @8, Fri @9, SAT @6 & 8, SUN @2 & 7; $29 - $38
Opening 10/21/04, closing 12/05/04
Reviewed by Rich See based on 11/26/04 performance
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