A Review of 1812 Productions' Boston Marriage

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Grace Gonglewski and Suzanne O'Donnell (Photo by Mark Garvin)
Grace Gonglewski and Suzanne O'Donnell (Photo by Mark Garvin)

Boston Marriage, the much lauded play by American playwright David Mamet, is currently on stage at the Plays & Players Theatre in Philadelphia. It is produced by 1812 Productions, the only professional theater company in the country dedicated to comedy, and stars Grace Gonglewski, Suzanne O’Donnell, and Caroline Dooner.

Having seen several shows by 1812 Productions at this point, I know that when I go see one of their productions that I am in for a well produced and entertaining show. The costumes, sets, and other elements of the production are always expertly done, and the casting is spot on. Boston Marriage is no exception. When the stage walls first pulled back and revealed an elaborately decorated 19th century parlor, I was in awe of its splendor and detail. When Anna and Claire, the two main characters, sauntered in, I was immediately impressed by their elaborate attire. The three actresses in this play, Grace Gonglewski, Suzanne O’Donnell, and Caroline Dooner, are all masterful. Their expressions, gestures, and comedic timing demonstrate what exceptional professionals they all are.

That said, I don’t necessarily think the play Boston Marriage is for everyone, and that has nothing to do with the acting or this particular production, but rather Mamet’s script. I think, perhaps, you need a certain appreciation of his style to really love this show. While the vast majority of the opening night audience I sat with was doubled over with laughter, I found myself not experiencing it as intensely. That’s not to say I didn’t laugh, because I did. I just didn’t have the urge to guffaw like my so many of my fellow theater goers. Perhaps I’m a bit too young and not as well versed in 19th century parlance to fully appreciate what Mamet has done here. After all, when Boston Marriage first premiered, The New York Times called it “devastatingly funny…exceptionally clever…demonstrates anew (Mamet’s) technical virtuosity and flexibility.” Who am I to disagree with The New York Times?

Overall, Boston Marriage is a well produced comedy featuring three exceptionally talented actress. Just because I didn’t exactly love this Mamet play, doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy 1812’s production of it (the audience certainly seemed enjoyed itself on opening night). Boston Marriage runs now through May 20th at the Plays & Players Theatre at 1714 Delancey Street. Tickets range from $20-$36 and are available at 215-592-9560 or at www.1812productions.org.

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