Sunday, May 03, 2015

Scenes from an Adultery by Ronan Noone Directed by Bridget Kathleen O’Leary New Repertory Theatre

Scenes from an Adultery
 by Ronan Noone
Directed by Bridget Kathleen O’Leary
New Repertory Theatre

It seems impossible that anyone could come up with a fresh take on adultery, the subject of uncountable short stories, novels, movies, television shows, and plays. But how about a play on adultery where the adulterous couple never appears on stage? By focusing on the collateral damage that adultery has on the friends of those who stray, Irish playwright Ronan Noone (now on the theatre department faculty at Boston University) does give us something new to think about.

It’s probably more accurate to say friends who may have strayed, because for a good part of Scenes from an Adultery we’re not quite certain who in the couple in question, Dean and Corrine, has actually done what. All we hear are what little the characters—Tony (Peter Stray), his best friend Gasper (Cirian Crawford), and his wife Lisa (Leda Uberbacher), all 40-somethings—have seen or heard, and what they have or haven’t told each other about what they’ve seen and heard. In fact, if the title weren’t already taken, the play could have been called Secrets and Lies.

It all starts with Gasper telling Tony that he saw Corrine cozying up to a man not her husband in the park. They discuss whether or not she’s really having an affair and if they should tell Dean, who is their good friend—in fact, the three of them usually meet each week at the pub, but Dean has been out of sorts lately, so the question is whether or not Dean suspects his wife is having an affair.

Back home, Tony chooses not to tell Lisa about what Gasper saw, because Corrine is a friend of hers, but eventually Lisa worms it out of Tony and accuses him of keeping secrets from her. The discussion that ensues about what information couples should and shouldn’t share with each other pretty well encapsulates the theme of the play—and forces us to think about where we stand on whether or not married couples and close friends should or shouldn’t share everything with one another.

From this point on, things get more and more complicated. All three of the characters struggle with whether or not to tell Dean and Corrine what they know—or think they know—complicating those friendships. When Gasper shares information with Tony that he insists Tony not tell Lisa—who is also his friend—Tony is unable to do it, so Gasper retaliates by telling Lisa something Tony doesn’t want her to know, tossing a bomb in the middle of their relationship. Eventually, Lisa also confronts Corrine, and her story complicates matters further.

Suffice it to say that nobody comes out of this one unscathed. The play has many funny moments, although I was never quite sure if it was supposed to be a comedy. I also wouldn’t describe it as a serious play with funny moments. It’s an odd hybrid, which made it difficult to know how to react sometimes. The play also doesn’t go terribly deep into its subject. The friend with whom I attended the play described the plot as one that would make a good TV show, something you might happen upon, watch, be mildly interested in, and then forget immediately.

That said, I was certainly never bored by the play (although I did get a little tired of Tony’s over-the-top reactions to things, which the director might have reined in a bit). The relationships among the three are convincing, and the way they twist themselves up over who should be told what about whom, about when to tell the truth and when to hold things back, is entertaining. If you don’t go expecting an evening of deep examination of relationships, you’ll probably have a good time, because this really is a new take on adultery, and the playwright deserves credit for pulling it off.

No comments:

Post a Comment