Meredith Ensemble Theatre performed their final show of the season, Boston Marriage by David Mamet, from April 3-7. The play centers around main characters Anna and Claire as they scheme for money and love, respectively. The play features strong themes of jealousy, friendship and infidelity, making for a lively two hours.
Boston Marriage’s script only includes three onstage characters: Anna, played by senior Hannah Davis Johns; Claire, played by sophomore Laura Austin; and their maid Catherine, played by freshman Hannah Hudson. Though the first act was filled to the brim with plot points and witty banter, the second act seemed to take an excessively long time for very few things to actually happen. With such a limited cast, there were fewer opportunities for fresh interaction between characters than in some other plays, and as a result the script had to work in much arguing and backtracking in plot. Concluding the play, Anna and Claire decide to abandon their schemes and continue living as they had been together. The ending felt a bit rushed, as just prior it seemed that Claire was still dead-set on romancing the young girl she had fallen in love with at the beginning of the play. Though the final moment between Anna and Claire was touching and played well by the actors, its set-up in the script felt lacking. The characters’ development as the play approached its closing could have been more accentuated, which would have made the ending less jarring.
In addition to the rushed ending, the script on the whole felt vague in its message. Although the focus of the play—that is, a Boston marriage—is indeed a concept that was traditionally blurred on purpose, the play itself never clearly addressed the fact that the two main characters arguably had a romantic history. The script tackled this fact in a way that felt as if it was danced around, apart from the singular peck Anna and Claire shared in the final scene. For the majority of the play, their relationship felt like a classically and stereotypically depicted “are they best friends or are they an item?” lesbian relationship, which is no doubt accurate to some situations, but in this context, it felt out-of-place, seeing as the entirety of the play took place in the privacy of their home where discretion is not as necessary as it would have been out on the streets. The way that the play depicted—or rather, did not depict—this relationship made it seem more taboo or dirty than may have been strictly necessary.
Despite complaints about the script, the acting from Meredith’s students was engaging and impressive. Austin and Johns were able to keep the chemistry and tension between their characters running even through the slightly dragging second act, and the comic relief provided by Hudson’s character Catherine brought many uproarious laughs from the audience. The three actors’ performances were at times scathing, at times hilarious and at times heartfelt. It was clear that they poured their all into the final performance of the semester, and for Johns, her final performance at Meredith.
By Olivia Slack, Features Editor