Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 8 a.m.
Angela Timberman as Marty in "Circle Mirror Transformation": one of the people in that mirror might not be married to her much longer
There was the just-closed Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
at the Jungle, which depicted marriage as an alcohol-soaked battlefield of mutually reinforcing sickness. It was a show in which a husband picked a bouquet of flowers from the garden, then proceeded to throw them at her (one at a time, like javelins).
Meanwhile, the Guthrie
is offering up a trifecta of marital disfunction. In M. Butterfly
, a lonely foreign-service employee is stuck in a passionless marriage and embarks on a long-term affair with an opera singer whom he thinks is a woman but is really a man. An endorsement of marriage it ain't (although it does seem to recommend gender-verification measures at some point during extra-marital activities).
Down the hall at the Guthrie proscenium, we have Dollhouse
. Rebecca Gilman's Ibsen update
features a couple circling one another amid a web of control, deceit, disrespect, and evasion. It's a take on contemporary middle-class marriage as a sham and a facade, and Gilman writes a surprise ending that ratchets up the pain in a strange, sideways fashion.
Take the elevator upstairs to the Dowling Studio, and you have Circle Mirror Transformation
. Annie Baker's story of a small acting class in a Vermont community center is a fascinating group character study, depicting (among other things) affections sliding between people in ways appropriate and not, and (wait for it) a marriage that hides all kinds of disconnect beneath its placid surface.
Of course art imitates life, and vice versa. I was at halftime at a Guthrie show recently and noted to the person next to me that every play I seem to watch lately features a failing marriage. Out in the real world, the Gores call it quits after four decades. You simply can never entirely predict where these stories are going to take us.