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A CurtainUp Review
Yeh, but you and Paul, I mean, you were married, you know. . . like married married ---Jean
Yeah, well now we're like split split --- Carol
Teresa Goding and Leo Lauer
Unlike some plays which have you puzzling the meaning of the title, the short tag of Michael Weller's marital comedy in two acts is as obvious as it is apt. It revolves around the splitup of thirty-something Carol and Paul, and the ripple effect of the breakup on the friends who have idealized them as "the perfect couple."

There are also double meanings to be found in that title. For starters the Brokenwatch Company production brings together an idea originally split up and presented as two separate plays -- Split , in 1978 and At Home in 1980. You might thus posit that while the marriage of Carol and Paul's split is unlikely to lead to a workable reunion, the plays make for an interesting union. Yet, despite the intriguing reverse order of the two forty-five minute acts and the fact that the same characters figure in both, there's a split personality feeling to the evening.

The first act consists of a series of swiftly paced episodes in which the seven cast members display their comic skills in deliciously disjointed duos and trios. Their personalities are pretty much quick-pen sketches, with only Andrew J. Hoff's video director way too broadly drawn. The most amusing of these sketches is about another couple (wittily played by Stephen Brumble Jr. and Nina Edgerton) who are prompted by Carol and Paul's ' breakup to reconsider their flirtation with "swinging" as an antidote to marital boredom. The entire forty-five minutes is a group opening act for the flashback drama to follow.

The second act details the blow-up which marked the beginning of the end of the happy marriage illusion. It features only Carol and Paul, with the previously encountered characters talked about but not seen.

Along with the mood switch -- from flippant fun to a more serious take on this couple's problems, individually and as a couple -- we now have a more fully furnished set to go with the more fully explored relationship. Even after a Shepardesque food fight (if you sit in the first two rows be prepared to be hit by some flying lettuce leaves!) and despite nuanced performances by Teresa L. Goding and Leo Lauer, however, this long scene leaves us with an ending that doesn't really give us the sense of having watched a real relationship unspool and try to mend itself. Carol voices her frustration at the lack of a meaningful work life yet there's no explanation of her working only part-time jobs during six years of marriage unencumbered by children.

Besides the already mentioned shortcomings regarding the pain of a real marriage on the verge of collapse, the Carol and Paul episode lacks, the pace of the more entertaining warmup segment.

Director and Brokenwatch founding member DeCorleto has done his utmost to invigorate this production with a new-new-thing rather than a self- absorbed yuppies replay by leaving it to the audience reconcile the first act's vague ending and the second act's appearance of a happy one. Ultimately, what the play and DeCorleto do most successfully is provide roles that, whether major or minor, show off the talents of the Brokenwatch actors. Perhaps one of these days, this young company will also showcase the talents of a new playwright.

Written by Michael Weller
Directed by Drew DeCorleta
Cast: Stephen P. Brumble, Nina Edgerton, Teresa Goding, Andres J. Hoff, Jeremy Koch, Leo Lauer and Veronica Mittenzwei.
Set Design: John Wiese
Costume Design: Joel Scher
Lighting Design: Chris Ball.
Running time: 1 hour and 45 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission
by Lion Theatre, 410-412 W. 42nd St.
9/12-02-10/20/02; opening 10/09/02.
Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri at 8pm, Sat at 3 and 8pm and Sunday at 7pm

Reviewed by Elyse Sommer based on September 19th performance.
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