Theater “Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.” This and other tidbits of knowledge, well-spoken male-bashing and elegant derision are part of Boston Marriage, the first of two David Mamet plays being staged at the Phoenix Theatre. Jason Bradley and Robert Elliott in the IRT production of ‘The Drawer Boy’ Set in Victorian times, the term “Boston marriage” refers to two women living together, in this case in a lesbian relationship. Anna has secured the patronage of a rich man, who has gifted her with an emerald necklace heirloom, while Claire has fallen in love with a young woman. When Claire brings her new love interest to the house for a tryst, complications ensue. The best part about the play is the language. Talk-heavy, it is glorious to follow. Though written in the mannered language of the time, modern words and phrases are dropped unexpectedly, giving the audience a comic jolt, and breaking the cadence — you don’t get lulled into the sing-songy siren song of unfamiliar words. Kelli Walker as Anna and Alissa Stamatis as Claire, along with Phebe Taylor as their verbally abused maid Catherine, roll with the work, presenting exceptional performances. Walker is especially noteworthy with the language and personality of Anna. Her speech and reactions never seem forced or unnatural, while occasionally Stamatis’ excessive arm movements can get distracting. Taylor dribbles good-natured commonness in her long-suffering position as target of Anna’s frustration. Director Bryan Fonseca has crafted a laugh-out-loud, memorable piece of work. Highly recommended. Boston Marriage, in repertory with American Buffalo, continues through Feb. 1 at the Phoenix, 749 N. Park Ave.; 635-PLAY, www.phoenixtheatre.org for reservations. ‘Drawer Boy’ charming The Indiana Repertory Theatre’s Drawer Boy is a charming and sweet look at two friends and the history they share. Set in the ’70s, WWII vets Morgan and Angus live on a farm that they have tended for 30 years. Morgan watches over Angus, who has memory loss from an accident during the war. Life is routine until Miles shows up on their doorstep, an actor who is searching for subject matter for a play. Through Miles’ prodding, truths are revealed about the past that Morgan would rather see remain buried. The characters in this play are some of the strongest I have seen. Robert Elliott as Morgan has a wicked sense of humor, and gleefully preys on Miles’ city-boy lack of knowledge when it comes to farm life. He finally has Miles sifting through cow manure with a fork for corn to feed the chickens after Miles runs him over with the tractor and other such mishaps. But Morgan isn’t a stereotypical crotchety old man. Elliott plays Morgan with depth and personality — he deadpans his chore requests to Miles, then cracks up after he leaves. His relationship with Angus is filled with matter-of-factness as well as real tenderness. Mark Goetzinger as Angus is touchingly simple. His blithe disconnection to past and future make him endearing. And Jason Bradley as Miles is a fine fish-out-of-water. The key is that all these characters seem so real. They are packed with believability. Couple this with a provocative script and a riveting ending (minus the closing poem) and you have a lovely piece of theater. Reflecting this is Ann Sheffield’s scenic design. When you look onto the stage and see the pastel backdrops that change color as the day progresses, you feel the vast expanse of the farm. It is light and airy — and speaks to the seclusion of the two men. Drawer Boy continues at the IRT, 140 W. Washington St., through Jan. 31; 635-5252, www.indianarep.com for reservations.

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