Happy Loving Couples

A husband thrusts his wife toward madness at the Lakeshore Players; Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas make nice at the Jungle

Tender buttons: Gertrude Stein (Claudia Wilkens) and Alice B. Toklas (Barbara Kingsley) in Gertrude Stein and a Companion
Tender buttons: Gertrude Stein (Claudia Wilkens) and Alice B. Toklas (Barbara Kingsley) in Gertrude Stein and a Companion

It's all very sweet, but also a little disappointing. Both Wilkens and Kingsley are performers who are capable of enormous nastiness onstage, and both Stein and Toklas possessed razor-tipped wits. Hints of it abound, such as when Toklas offers her withering assessment of Hemingway as "fragile," but these moments are rare. Mostly, the pair talk about fine art and go out for picnics like an old middle-class couple. It's like watching a nature documentary about piranha in which all the deadly fish do is write each other love notes: Eventually, we want to see them bare their teeth and shred an ox.

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