Editors' pick

Boston Marriage

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Boston Marriage photo
Courtesy Capital Fringe Festival
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Editorial Review

‘Boston Marriage’ is Mamet on women

By Nelson Pressley
Monday, July 11, 2011

“Boston Marriage” is the David Mamet you may not know, an arch comedy of manners about Victorian lesbians. Mamet being Mamet, of course the “marriage” in question turns on business.

It’s Jane Austen, Henry James and “American Buffalo,” driven by repartee that’s back-alley Oscar Wilde — precise and elaborate yet wickedly brutal, with foul-mouthed eruptions peppering the copious “I pray you’s.” Mamet’s hot-dogging dialogue is a gas, and in the Capital Fringe Festival show at Spooky Universe (in a church at 16th and S streets NW), Kathleen Alvania has a particularly high time with it.

Alvania plays Anna, the woman being kept by a wealthy man whose daughter (follow closely now) is seeing Anna’s younger girlfriend, Claire. Feeling cash-rich and romance-poor, Anna grows exuberantly expressive. Lobbing verbal grenades toward Claire and toward the Scottish maid, Alvania performs with a selfish, wicked glee that’s highly entertaining.

A maxim: In plays with maids, when the maid is really good, the show’s on solid ground. Nora Achrati is, indeed, really good as the maid, acting with an accent that’s as consistent as it is absurdly broad, and nailing the dim girl’s punchlines. Colleen Sproull isn’t much more than sweet and earnest as Claire, and although that puts a little slack in the comic tension, the 75-minute show is still pretty bright. Craig Wallace’s direction is clean and smart, and as long as the women don’t talk faster than the characters think (which is most of the time), it’s a snappy affair.