A perfect cocktail

Blue Martini

By Mike Ferell
Directed by Ben Cikanek
Equity showcase (closed)
Under St. Marks Theater
Review by Seth Bisen-Hersh

Blue Martini is a comedy about twentysomethings and their experiences with sex and love. It is a good play filled with many amusing moments and some poignant truths about relationships and life. With a solid cast, Blue Martini is a well-written, entertaining show.

The plot focuses on two couples -- one in the process of perhaps breaking up and one in the process of perhaps getting together. The main character is Shelly (Jennifer Laine Williams), a bar critic -- the hippest single gal in Chicago. The show starts with her face down on the rug. Her best friend, Renee (Kristen Bedard), comes in to tell her about this cute guy she met at church whom she invited over for Shelly to meet, named Jack (Mike Ferrell). Renee is also having doubts about her four-year relationship with Martin (Josh Tyson), who comes over to pick her up for their anniversary. The fifth character is the requisite gay roommate, Quentin (Michael Raimondi), who has recently gotten a job selling dildos and vibrators to older, single women at parties.

Thus, the show centers on the two relationships between Shelly and Jack, where there is an instant dislike, and Renee and Martin, where there is a growing rift. Quentin adds some humor and insight as an outsider.

The show is not a laugh-a-minute comedy, however, as advertised. It is more of a "dramedy" with comic moments. The first act is a little slow and filled with exposition, but the second act rockets with dynamic dialog. Perhaps the show could have used a few more jokes and running gags, but overall it is a well-written, realistic look at the twentysomething crowd in Chicago.

The cast was very talented. They all had their moments of truth and hilarity. Williams did an especially good job of displaying the toughness and vulnerability her character has. Also, Bedard did a great job transforming her prudish caricature into a real, deeply emotional person.

The direction, by Ben Cikanek, moved the show along while staging to allow both sides of the audience to view the play's action. The set, by Marsha Dunn and Matt Sullivan, looked adequately like it could be from an apartment. Finally, the costumes, by Heather Klar, are wonderful -- they were all completely color-coordinated, first of all. Secondly, they symbolized things from the play -- Jack was all in blue because he is referred to as a blue martini, and there is a reference to Martin's being like Charlie Brown, and he had a Charlie Brown-ish line on his sweatshirt.

Thus, Blue Martini is deliciously divine. It is a tight comedy that explores many genuine issues twentysomethings contend with these days.

  Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 1
Acting: 2
Set: 1
Costumes: 2
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2003 Seth Bisen-Hersh