Thursday, June 28, 2012
Theater review part deux: 2 Couples 2 at Addison Theatre Center
The dialogue, antics, and incidents rarely pop.
I admire the premise of Alejandro de la Costa’s “Naughty New Comedy,” 2 Couples 2, playing through June 30 in The Stone Cottage at Addison Theatre Center, under the auspices of Mark-Brian Sonna Productions. Two married couples (Xav (short for Xavier) and Zoe, Will and Yvette) realize that the cabin they’re renting for the weekend has only one large bedroom, depriving them of privacy. Symbolically, this dissolving of boundaries sparks a series of revelations. We come to discover that Zoe and Yvette, Will and Xav are also sexual partners and strangely enough, the same gender couples are much more compatible. Sex between the two men and two women is extremely avid, while sex between spouses is tepid. When the play ends, nothing is resolved, because 1) No one wants to hurt anyone’s feelings and 2) the “stigma” of homoerotic coupling. Only we in the audience see the irony: the folly of sacrificing happiness for the sake of propriety.
Once again, MBS Productions is exploring the trials and travails of sexual behavior, especially the impact of same-sex love in the midst of an irrational and homophobic culture. The strength of 2 Couples 2 is in its informality. Its nonchalance. The characters may torture themselves over the particulars, but Costa (and we) can see the answers very clearly. The genre of sex farce works well here, because the characters are basically good people who want to live truthfully and responsibly, wrestling with what they’ve been taught and who they actually are. They teeter on the brink of enlightenment, but fear of the unknown keeps them at a stalemate. They’re torn between living purposefully and happily and who they think they ought to be. Confessing to their spouses could only improve the situation, but they can’t bring themselves to do it.
There are numerous sex and/or romantic farces in which we are invited to laugh at the duplicity and delusions of its characters. Sexual Perversity in Chicago, Lovers and Other Strangers, The Owl and the Pussycat. The path to navigating a pleasurable and fulfilling love life can be fraught with peril, and the situation itself, brimming with opportunities to extrapolate wisdom. Much as I applaud 2 Couples 2 for its evolved ideological underpinnings, the dialogue, antics, and incidents rarely pop. The humor is often simplistic or devoid of logic. You can have non-sequiturs but even those need discernible slant associations.
Past experience with Costa’s plays has impressed me with their intelligence and erudition. I suspect this sensibility may be running counter to his use of colloquial or “blue” language. His characters in 2 Couples 2 don’t seem to have much feel for how casual and graphic content emerges seamlessly in conversation. When adults are only being frank, that’s very different from being “naughty” a concept we normally leave behind when we understand that truth isn’t necessarily lofty. There are amusing moments in 2 Couples 2, but I suspect Costa is attempting somersaults before mastering the art of strolling.
Pegasus News Content partner - Christopher Soden, Dallas GLBT Arts Examiner
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