Mix of marriage, home renos makes for solid comedy in new PTE play
Rick Chafe’s Marriage: A Demolition in Two Acts delivers crowd-pleasing laughs in world premiere
The quickest way to dismantle a marriage might be to dismantle your kitchen.
That's the sentiment behind Marriage: A Demolition in Two Acts, a new comedy by Winnipeg writer Rick Chafe (a Governor General's Award nominee for his last play, The Secret Mask, which — like this one — saw its premiere at Prairie Theatre Exchange).
Like any home renovation, not everything in this new play works out quite perfectly — but the end result is certainly pleasing enough to feel like it's worth the effort.
As Wayne and John tear the kitchen to its studs, the bones of the two relationships are also exposed — and not always for the best.
The situation and the interplay of the two couples leave lots of opportunity for both good comedy and clichés, and Marriage delivers both.
On the plus side, Chafe has a great ear for dialogue, and crafts a lot of quippy one-liners and witty exchanges, along with a few nice Winnipeg in-jokes for the hometown crowd (like Wayne's description of his neighbourhood, where "the streets change their names three times for some reason").
Chafe's script offers more than enough laughs to carry the audience happily through the play's two-hour running time. But it does feel like it gets mired in overlong shouting matches and plot bounces in its second act.
That said, it also avoids predictability and pat conclusions, and right up until its satisfying end, Chafe delivers comedy that has more than a bit of the bite of truth and real life to it.
Director Bob Metcalfe's production is polished and shows off great comic timing, and makes clever use of Brian Perchaluk's ingeniously designed set, which allows a kitchen to be torn apart before our eyes — and even allows the set changes to become nice bits of physical comedy.
If it were a house, you might say Marriage needs a bit of spackle here or a paint touch-up there — but it's got great bones. This demolition is a solid crowd-pleaser.
Marriage: A Demolition in Two Acts runs at Prairie Theatre Exchange until Apr. 3.