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Boston Marriage

by David Mamet

VENUE : 7 Stages [WEBSITE]
ID# 1215

SHOWING : March 10, 2005 - April 03, 2005



Two Longtime Companions spar over jewelry, jealousy, and other matters of import to the participants an 1890's "Boston Marriage."

Playwright David Mamet
Director Joe Gfaller
Anna Shelly McCook
Maid Katie Merritt
Claire Mary Emily O'Bradovich
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


by Dedalus
Thursday, March 31, 2005
A number of years ago, David Mamet’s “Speed-the-Plow” depicted two men sniping at each other and trying to seduce a “sweet young thing.” As he is often criticized for not understanding women, and for writing underdeveloped female roles, Mr. Mamet responded with “Boston Marriage,” depicting two women sniping at each other and talking about the seduction of a “sweet young thing.” Who says writers never learn?

This is a production that should not work. At its basic level, it’s a retread with a female “overcoat.” It’s an attempt at poetic, Victorian dialogue from the acknowledged master of the modern and profane. It is a period piece done by a company specializing in the contemporary and cutting edge. The characters never change costumes, even though they are supposedly well-to-do (or at least “kept” by someone well-to-do), and the play covers several days of time. It is performed in an intimate black box space by a cast who project as if in a 500-seat proscenium showcase.

But, you know what? It works. It works on every level. It works so well that it has taken me over a week to try to pin down exactly why it works. The answer can be boiled down to two of the basics of any theatrical experience – writing and acting.

Yes, we can see the basic Mamet formula at work, but he is a skillful enough writer, that the characters can still surprise, the dialogue can still sing, and the sniping can still amuse. More than a variation on a theme, the structure is an alternate route, a complete different set of priorities and goals and achievements. The formula here is a skeleton upon which an entirely different creature has been constructed. Whereas the typical Mamet character is male and blasphemous and on the edges of the society it inhabits, the women of “Boston Marriage” act like they are the mainstream. It is a pretense, yes, but, by inhabiting such a central place, they do more to throw light on the mainstream of the society they inhabit, rather than the typical outer channels.

And, true to form, the dialogue sings with music and wit that is unsurpassed by anyone writing today.

As to the performers, I have been a fan of Shelly McCook for a number of years now. I was initially irritated by her full projection in the small backstage area. Bot it only took a few moments for me to accept this as a character mannerism, rather than an actor choice I didn’t like. Ms. McCook made me believe hers was a woman who was always on stage, and her vocal quality was a product of that attitude. It helped that she was matched tone for tone and nuamce for nuance by Mary Emily O’Bradovich. Against these powerhouses, poor maid Katie Merritt doesn’t stand a chance. That her meek Katherine comes across as just as real and just as affecting is a tribute to her own performance.

The bottom line is that I believed these women, I liked them in spite of the casual cruelty and poisoned badinage, and I was finally moved by them and their acceptance of each other.

And, in the final analysis, formula or no formula, isn’t that what theater is all about?

-- Brad Rudy (

by doug
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
7 Stages presents a well-acted, lovingly staged production of a minor David Mamet work. While it lacks some of the emotional complexities of Mamet's more well-known works, as an evening of entertainment this play serves nicely. Shelly McCook is particularly strong as Anna, with ample voice to match a sweeping and confident portrayal. Mary Emily O'Bradovich complements McCook with a subtler, wholly endearing portrayal of a woman in flux. Katie Merritt registers strongly as the Maid in this far-above average entertainment. Set was beautiful-- an admirable use of a challenging, small space. Highly recommended. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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