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Theatre Reviews
Sunday, November 11, 2012
Key West Fringe Presents a Thoroughly Engaging 'Boston Marriage'

By Terry Schmida

Ever wonder what Victorian-era "girl talk" might sound like?

The answer, according to David Mamet, has been distilled into the famed playwright's witty and salacious "Boston Marriage," presented as part of the Key West Fringe theater festival. The subject matter is a bit of a departure for Mamet but this 1999 work is funny and thoughtful and works perfectly on stage in our elegantly gender-bending town. (A note to the easily offended: The play also retains the salty, if dated, language prevalent in many of Mamet's other offerings.)

For the uninitiated, a Boston marriage is the name given to domestic unions of convenience between women in Victorian New England. The partners were often feminists or career-oriented gals who felt constrained by the confines of marriage. A number of these "brides" were sexual libertines who didn't want to get married to anyone -- male or female-- but still needed roommates to help pay the bills. Still others were considered too educated to make good wives!

A Boston marriage could have a sexual element, but not all of them did, adding a certain mystique to the concept.

With that in mind, meet Anna (Rebecca Gleason) and Claire (Nicole Nurenberg.) These two friends "of a certain age" have been separated for a while and Anna's dying to show off the chintzy decorating of her living room she's done in honor of Claire.

Her pal is distracted, however, and it soon becomes clear why: Claire is in love with someone much younger than she and needs Anna's help in arranging a rendezvous with her beloved.

Anna, meanwhile, has her own fish to fry. She's succeeded in becoming a mistress to a man of means who's awarded her a monthly stipend, an account at a dressmaker's shop -- and an expensive heirloom necklace. More than anything, Anna is determined to maintain this situation that has allowed her to live independently and extravagantly.

It's a worrying development, then, when Claire's new love arrives and reveals a connection to Anna's new jewelry that threatens to derail the plans of both Claire and Anna.

Another factor in the story is Anna's hot-to-trot maid Catherine (Caroline Taylor), whose deadpan delivery provides comic relief and a possible plot twist.

Will Claire connect with her young love? Will Anna keep her independence -- and her necklace? What will become of Catherine?

Make a vow to see "Boston Marriage" and find out.

• • • • •

Due to excessive noise from a competing "cultural event" -- the powerboat races -- opening night has been postponed. The play will now open at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17, then run on Saturday, Nov. 18, and again on Nov. 30, Dec. 1 and 2 and nightly from Dec. 9 through 11.