Writers from Shakespeare to contemporary stand up comics have recognized the humorous potential in marriage. A new Art House production about to open this week ventures into this well-trod territory, and brings its own unique twist.
“Commit,” by ECJ Calvert, is a dark comedy derived from a larger collection of works, and explores three different marital situations brought to life by an ensemble of professional actors.
The play, which runs from May 29 through June 7, marks the first partnership between Art House Productions and Mana Contemporary, two of the leading arts organizations in Jersey City.
“We’re incredibly excited that Mana Contemporary is sponsoring us,” said Art House Productions Executive Director Christine Goodman. “They’ve done so much to bring top-caliber visual art, dance and more to Jersey City, and we’re looking forward to bringing this dynamic show to their arts center.”
“Commit” presents three stories of “loving estrangement and bloody romance.” Rather than dealing with the bubbly happiness typical of romantic comedy, the play explores desperation and loneliness in marriage, coupled with murder and “the fine art of the martini.”
“She was interested in linking three of these together for this play.” – Christine Goodman
“This play is unique and exciting because it takes three very recognizable relationship dynamics, and throws in an absurdist element that turns everything on its head,” said director Mason Beggs. “The situations are ridiculous, but the human relationship underneath is accessible.”
Although the same actors play the main roles in each story, they are separate stories with different characters, exploring various aspects of the cracking façade of relationships.
Formed from a larger collections of stories
Calvert comes by way of the New School in Manhattan, and had written about 10 original pieces as part of a sequence.
“She was interested in linking three of these together for this play,” Goodman said.
The play runs about an hour and has a total cast of five actors, including the male lead, Terrance MacSweeney, who played the lead in an Art House production last year.
“This is a professional cast,” Goodman said.
MacSweeney, Eleanor Handley, and David Riley are members of Actors Equity, and the cast also includes Evie Freeman and Kit Vogelsang.
This marks Art House’s first show at Mana’s newly-opened theater space.
“We’re very fortunate,” Goodman said, noting that the collaboration came as a result of a number of conversations over a period of time in which both groups explored the idea of working together.
“We are part of the Jersey City arts community,” Goodman said. “The theater is very new and we’re very lucky to have an opportunity to bring the show to Mana.”
“Commit,” written by Calvert and directed by Beggs, features a music and audio design by Michael Flinck. Lighting design is done by Lance A. Michel, set and prop design by Gail-Marie Boykewich, and costume design by Pat Christodulidis.
The play is Art House’s professional main stage production for the year and will be held at Mana Contemporary, 888 Newark Ave., Jersey City. Performance dates are May 29 through 31 at 8 p.m. and June 5 to 7 at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $20, $15 in advance, and can be purchased online at http://commit.brownpapertickets.com. The theater is wheelchair accessible. Parking is available in the Mana Contemporary lot.
This performance is not suitable for children. Using the film scale, the rating would be PG-13.
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.