We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Forget premarital counseling. If you’re struggling with whether to take so-and-so to be your lawfully wedded spouse, haul ass to the District of Columbia Arts Center to see the Texas-based Fountainhead Theatre’s razor-sharp production of Alexandra Gersten’s black-coffee comedy, My Thing of Love. When Charlotte Akin’s Elly confronts Jim Jorgensen’s Jack about an affair he’s having with 26-year-old Kelly (Jenifer Nall), the hell-hath-no-fury maxim is played out to its extreme. Jane Curtin look-alike Akin eschews the betrayed-wife stereotype for a humane portrayal of an unhinged, startlingly forthright middle-aged soccer mom who simply refuses to join the First Wives Club. Gersten’s polemics mix metaphors with a barbed pestle, all the while dropping unexpected lines of poetry (“We’ll look like innocent people on a white trek,” “I’m a very ripe idea waiting to come true,” “He’s got night vision during the day”) amid the marital in-jokes. As everyone around her gradually goes crazy, Elly is the only one left standing, and the detached, Mametian sentence-interruptus dialogue becomes strangely moving, if not comforting. Though the initial tension between Elly’s lucidity and the near mania of her husband is distracting, it is indicative of the characters’ separate realities. Jordan T. Pulaski, as childlike guidance counselor Mr. Garn, delivers a howl-inducing vaudevillian schtick that at first seems gratuitous; but the breathtaking comedy is a necessary aperitif for the wrenching remainder of the play. Gersten also deserves credit for her decidedly unpejorative characterization of the Other Woman; the competent Nall adds an extra measure of urgency to the traditionally harrowing love-on-the-rocks template. Director Michael Replogle’s production echoed long after I left the theater. Let’s just say I won’t be picking out china patterns anytime soon. Amanda Fazzone