Review: 'A Marriage Minuet' Examines Marriage, Morals

Article excerpt

Unlike the dances of today that appear as free-form inspirations, dances of the late 18th and early 19th century had agreed-upon structure.

They were best enjoyed when everyone knew and adhered to the rituals, steps and patterns. They had recognized beginnings and endings and served to entertain not just the participants but those who were watching as well.

That sounds like a stuffy premise for a contemporary comedy .

David Wiltse's "A Marriage Minuet" does use conventions of dance and theater of the late 18th and early 19th century and examines marriage and morals through the lens of two contemporary couples.

It's more a fast-paced polka and far from stuffy.

Wiltse focuses his tale on two couples in the mid-marriage doldrums. They're comfortable with and still fond of each other. But time and familiarity has worn away the peaks and valleys of passion and desire.

Douglas, played by Douglas Rees, is a delightfully clueless and highly principled teacher/writer attempting to hold the floodgates against the current tide of anything-goes standards for both literature and ethics. "Morality imparts meaning," he tells his class early on. Douglas authors earnest and intelligent books that are as well-crafted as they are poor sellers.

He's married to Lily (Helena Ruoti) who is fond and intelligent but far more worldly wise.

They have an ambivalent relationship with another couple. Ross Bickell's Rex is "a concocter of best sellers" and a self- congratulatory rogue and unrepentant philanderer. His wife, Violet (Deidre Madigan), is intelligent and sensitive but long resigned to his ego and infidelity.

Along for the ride is Tami Dixon, who moves the play along as all the other women on whom Rex exerts his efforts as well as a variety of booksellers, book buyers and waitresses.

All four have their principles tested with a variety of reactions and outcomes. …