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When I saw it on the Catalyst Theater schedule, I half hoped the D.C. premiere of Adam Bock’s snappy little relationship comedy would go desperately wrong, if only so I could say it had jumped the shark. As it turns out, the shark (a wet-suited, fin-sporting Patrick Bussink) eventually jumps the sexaholic serial bachelor (Christopher Janson) who’s been crushing on him from outside the glass at the municipal aquarium. Yup, it’s that kind of play; dive in, and you may find yourself in love at first bite.
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True, the potential of a terminal hickey never seems quite out of the question—you’ve gotta love a show that can make a seaside nuzzle seem both sexy and nerve-wracking—but in Bock’s upbeat absurdist world, our sweet little interspecies couple seems at least as likely to find happiness as the commitment-shy but nonetheless altar-bound lesbians (Adrienne Nelson and September Marie Fortier). Or the 40-something, newly Buddhist nurse (Ellen Young) who’s busy shedding her belongings along with her balky consumerist husband (Scott Bailey).
Bock’s tidy triptych of a script isn’t necessarily turning over new earth, thematically: His couples talk past each other, grow apart as they grow older, fall for the unattainable when what’s at hand seems too easily acquired, and the lessons they learn are of a familiarly worldly kind.
But it’s all framed so inventively, with such a fresh, oddball vision, that it’s never less than entertaining. Scott Fortier’s staging has a winning, knowing style (not to mention a terrifically apt set by Tom Donahue), and Bock’s crisply clever dialogue elicits more than one startled belly laugh; if the players’ rhythms weren’t quite perfect on opening night, they were close, and they’ll doubtless have tightened up by the time you read this.
Best of all, this unassuming little comedy never seems to be trying. It’s not every play you praise for sticking comfortably to the interpersonal shallows—but that’s exactly how this one makes its considerable splash.