Two For The Seesaw
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Ed Smith

Going to Marin Theatre’s latest production, Two For The Seesaw is like going to an old movie but without the schmaltz. Indeed, this two-character play, written by William Gibson (The Miracle Worker), was made into a movie in 1962 starring Shirley MacLaine and Robert Mitchum (the earlier Broadway version starred Anne Bancroft and Henry Fonda).

While most love stories written in that era end with the couple living happily ever after, Gibson’s drama takes a more realistic approach, which is reflected in its title. Indeed, most man/woman relationships are the coming together of two completely opposite individuals in what at best is a seesaw of emotions.

Jerry Ryan, played by James Carpenter, is a Nebraska lawyer who runs to the anonymity of New York City to escape his wealthy wife who has been cheating on him for over a year. Wounded by her break in trust, he also needs to break free from the way her and her family has taken care of him financially. He has never been able to prove his abilities as an individual and feels smothered.

Gittel Mosca, portrayed by Amy Resnick, also lacks self-confidence, but this is probably the only thing she has in common with Ryan. She has dreams of being a dancer and starting her own dance company, but she’s already a bit old for a profession that requires the limberness of youth, and besides, she has a severe stomach disorder.

But opposites attract, especially when they’re both desperate enough and so begins their up and down relationship. The set design by Leigh Henderson reflects the seesaw of their life. The stage is split in the middle with the slanting floors of their individual apartments running at an uphill angle.

This is not a “feel good” play. It’s meant to be dissonant and disturbing. If you’ve recently gone through a divorce or relationship breakup, it will probably bring back a lot of bad memories, but it will make you feel good about living alone. When Gittel and Jerry both finally say the “L” word to each other you can’t help but wonder if it’s not “D” for “desperate” in disguise. But the saving grace of this drama is that we see two people, in spite of the odds against them, willing to try to make a relationship work. That alone takes certain courage like joining the Army and volunteering to fight in a war you know you’re probably going to lose. Ah the insanity of love and war! But as insane as they are, you always have a heightened awareness of being alive and vibrant like a blooming rose in the hot sun or a lush jungle ablaze with napalm.

For tickets or more information call (415) 388-5208 or visit www.marintheatre.org.

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