‘Boston Marriage’ @ The Lace Market

An amateur production in a small, quirky theatre; the actresses tried hard to pull off the witty script without complete success.

Boston Marriage, set in Boston in the 1890s, is centred around two middle class women who are old friends reunited, discussing their new love interests. David Mamet succeeds in writing a clever, incredibly funny script which creates a realistic and unusual representation of women with interests in the same sex. I was impressed on the whole by Sylvia Robson’s performance as Claire. Although a little shaky at first, she eased into the character and created Claire’s satirical begging for help and support well. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Maeve Doggett (Anna): her voice was too monotonic and the satire was lost in her musical voice. Furthermore, she delivered too many of her lines to the audience when she appeared to be addressing Claire. The use of accents hindered rather than helped this acting; I would have preferred them to speak in British accents
rather than in their inconsistent, false Carolinas-sounding tones.

Mamet’s characters themselves are brilliant, which is clear through the character of Catherine, played phenomenally by Clare Gonzalez. The character provided comic relief and she certainly was a welcome change when she came on stage intermittently. Always in character and with a perfect Scottish accent, Gonzalez shone as the slightly gormless servant. She truly carried the show to its climax; being upstaged by the servant is a little embarrassing.

With regards to Anna and Claire, their differences, as well as their shrewdness, glue the plot together, and one can see that there should be a great chemistry between these bantering characters. Unfortunately, this was rarely delivered! The majority of the performance was spent willing the characters to show more fire in their acting. There were moments of great comedy when the two actresses looked at each other and acted together but, generally, the energy of the play was lost early on and was only somewhat regained in heated discussions. Pauses in between lines were too long and the actresses’ lacklustre acting swallowed many of the comedic lines. Numerous times during the play, the audience knew that a line was intended to be funny but the delivery did not elicit the laughter it ought to have received. The whole performance felt as though it was tame.

Of course, this was not the worst play I’ve ever seen. There were moments when all three actresses were on form, and the costumes and set design were brilliant. The problem was that it had such potential to be a great production since the script is fantastic, and it was because of basic mistakes – a lack of real connection on stage, directorial errors – that the play fell flat. David Mamet wrote in 2010 that ‘the job of the actor is to perform the play such that his performance is more enjoyable – to the audience – than a mere reading of the text.’ Sadly, I feel I would have preferred to read the play instead.

Sangeeta Jheinga

ArtsArts Reviews

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