Three couples zoned out at The Secret Rose Theatre

By Cynthia Citron

Cynthia Citron

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, California — The attractive middle-aged couple is having a fight.  It’s not one of those screaming, throwing-things-at-each-other kind of fights.  Rather, it’s the irritable kind of bickering where every time he opens his mouth she argues with whatever he has to say.

This time the argument is about selling the house they have lived in for 20 years.  She wants to “move up” to a nicer house in a better neighborhood.  He wants to stay where they are.  Nevertheless, she appears to be winning.  They have put the house up for sale.
It’s a fast-paced opening to playwright Jeff Gould’s delightful and hilarious take on a marriage that has lasted long enough for the participants to become permanently annoyed with each other.  We all know how that works, right?
The play is The Marriage Zone, the fourth play in which Gould explores the relationships between men and women.  His other plays are Troubled Waters, Is There Sex After Marriage?, and It’s Just Sex.  After these successful comedies you might consider Gould something of a marriage maven.  And his absurdly funny, realistic dialogue confirms it.
So in the midst of their kerfuffle there is a knock at the door.  It’s a young couple (very young!) who’ve been engaged for two days and would like to look at the house as a possible first home for themselves. Immediately, the lady of the house, Beth (Anne Leighton) turns into a charming hostess, while her husband Cal (Jeff Pride) continues to scowl.
The young couple, Ellie and Skip (Megan Barker and Ryan Cargill) are at that stage in their love affair where they can’t stop climbing all over each other every few minutes.  And they love the house.
But their dewy-eyed appraisal is interrupted by another knock  at the door. It’s an older couple, Liz  (Jacee Jule) and Mike (Alex Hyde-White), who have dropped by to look at the house where they had lived when they were newly married.  Their relationship to each other is confrontational, almost a continuation of the exasperated conversation Beth and Cal were having before everybody showed up,
And then there is Ryan (Ciaran Brown), Beth and Cal’s 15-year-old son.
As the three couples converse they discover a plethora of coincidences in their lives.  In fact, as it turns out, they are all the same couple at different stages in their life.  And as the secrets pour out—-infidelities, divorce, and drug addiction—-the convoluted plot, filled with denials, apprehension, and confusion, becomes more serious, and also more riotous.
Ellie decides that there is no reason to marry Skip if their marriage is going to end in divorce.  Whereupon Beth becomes frantic, realizing that if Ellie and Skip don’t marry they will never produce their mutual son, Ryan.  And Mike offers the opinion that his marriage to Liz began to suffer when they decided to sell the house.
And so it goes.  All seven actors play it straight, and under the superb direction of the playwright, Jeff Gould, they produce a wonderful, suspenseful comedy that everyone can enjoy.  No matter your age or marital stage, The Marriage Zone is the play to see.

This world premiere of The Marriage Zone can be seen Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 3 through August 27th at The Secret Rose Theatre, 11246 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood.  Call (323) 960-7784 for tickets or online at www.Plays411.com/marriage zone.

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Citron is a freelance writer specializing in coverage of the arts. She may be contacted via [email protected]

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