Written and directed by Jeff Gould, THE MARRIAGE ZONE is an uproarious tale about the stages of marital bliss – or otherwise – told by an author who clearly knows how to make – and keep making – people laugh until their sides split. The current show is the fourth in a series of Gould comedies exploring the dynamics of relationships between men and women (“Troubled Waters,” “Is There Sex after Marriage,” and “It’s Just Sex”). But THE MARRIAGE ZONE takes an unexpected and fascinating twist in the war between the sexes.
Just about to enter middle age, Cal (Dane Bowman) and Beth (Monica Young) are selling their house – even though Cal has some misgivings about the effects the move might have on their finances and stress levels. Enter Skip (Cameron Tagge) and Ellie (Britt Rose), a rapturously in-love engaged couple who are in the market for their first home. To complete the sextet, Mike (Alex Hyde-White) and Liz (Jacee Jule) unexpectedly stop by to take a peek at the house, now on the market, where they began their married life years ago. The three couples really hit it off – until they begin to see parallels in their lives. Maybe too many parallels. Clearly far too many parallels.
Jeff Gould has an uncanny feel for how marriages may change over the years; he also has the unbridled talent to take these subtle changes and turn them into hysterical situations which mimic real life just a little too closely. Both his writing and his directing reflect these creative aptitudes, honed to a fine point in THE MARRIAGE ZONE. The talented ensemble cast also has a handle on how to convey these rollicking happenings while constantly tickling the audience’s funny bones. The play is dual cast; the actors sited in the review are the cast members who performed on the night of the review. THE MARRIAGE ZONE is a marriage in two senses: it is a cunning cautionary tale about the institution of marriage, and it is also a marriage of very funny material and comedic acting to produce a brilliant whole. One audience member commented after the closing curtain, “That was really funny…and it was also so true.”
Jane Lake’s set is simple but adequate – for it is the actors’ words and actions that draw the audience in. Lighting and sound also play an important role in the proceedings as “twilighty” events begin to occur. The audience should remember that “You are traveling to another dimension: a dimension of sight and sound and imagination.” Rod Serling is probably smiling from somewhere up there as he watches the play – or perhaps we should say he’s chuckling, giggling, and even guffawing with gusto. If you’re into comedy, relationships, or just feel like thoroughly enjoying the evening, THE MARRIAGE ZONE is for you.
THE MARRIAGE ZONE runs through November 17, 2018, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and on Sundays at 3 p.m. The Santa Monica Playhouse is located at 1211 Fourth Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Tickets are $40. For information and reservations, call 800-838-3006 or go online.