What if you could save the life of someone you love by dying in his or her place? Would you do it? This provocative question was the premise for Tony Sportiello's intriguing new play. A young husband in the heat of passion declares he would lay down his life for his beautiful young wife. He doesn't realize that he is about to held to his promise.
Three successful young suburban couples are celebrating New Year's Eve at the home of Doug and Karen, whose obvious adoration of one another causes the other couples to reevalute their marriages. Karen is a dedicated doctor and her husband Doug is a successful sportswriter, as are the other two husbands. Mitch and Amy are about to leave for a trip to the Far East, and the sorry state of Dan and Jackie's marriage is revealed, fuelled by excessive drinking by all. Karen remembers an errand, promising to return in five minutes, but she has a car accident and is killed instantly. The grieving Doug is soon visited by two stylish figures named Leila and Jake, who seem to have stepped out of a Noel Coward play. They are spirits from the other side who ask Doug if he was serious about giving up his life for Karen. They give him the opportunity to make good on his pledge, and give him six weeks to think it over. Time is turned back six weeks and Doug must live with Karen aware that one of them will die. After a great deal of soul-searching, Doug reaches a decision.
Sportiello's twists and turns had the audience at the edge of their seats, with the help of Mislove's taut, snappy direction. The incisive writing and talented ensemble brought empathy to the unremarkable characters, reminiscent of novels by Jay McInerney.
Greg Skura was outstanding as the sensitive, conflicted Doug, and Dee Dee Friedman was irresistible as the intense, glamorous Karen. Holly Hawkins was magnificent as Karen's bored, promiscuous sister Jackie, and Michael Rhodes's Dan complemented Hawkins with his intense, self-deprecating humor and sensuality. Dave Konig and Jennifer Jiles as Mitch and Amy had underwritten roles but infused them with charm and energy. The strongest work of the evening was contributed by Lane Binkley and Bill Tatum as the decadent, martini-quaffing spirits. Binkley's gentle, balanced performance was spellbinding, particularly in the final scene.
The set and lights functioned smoothly, and the costumes were appropriate for each character.
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Copyright 2001 Julie Halpern