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Boulevard Theatre’s Enjoyable ‘Fourplay’

Theater Review

Aug. 4, 2010
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Boulevard Theatre, the tiny theater space in Bay View, deserves a round of applause for producing an exquisite collection of short plays under the heading of “Fourplay.” The title could also refer to the term “foreplay,” as all of these little gems share a romantic theme. The result is an excellent summer refreshment.

The productions clip along at a brisk pace. All four plays, plus intermission, clock in at less than 90 minutes. There’s another benefit for those who are sometimes annoyed by the enormous casts that Boulevard squeezes onto its tiny stage (reminding one of canned sardines). In “Fourplay,” each of the offerings features only two actors, a male and female. This gives the characters enough room to actually move about the stage.

In John Patrick Shanley’s charming The Red Coat, a boy professes his love in the shy, awkward way that young boys do. The second play, Dead Right, is a typical exchange between long-married partners. As the husband reads the newspaper, he calmly points out an obituary to his wife. She knows the deceased, but only slightly. The wife is so appalled at the “unattractive” photo and “boring” narrative in the woman’s obituary, she starts peppering her husband about what he will put in her obituary. “Who cares?” he says matter-of-factly. “You’ll be dead.” This only fuels the fire in a very funny, realistic conversation between husband and wife. Actors Barbara Weber and Mark Ninneman play off each other well.

The second part of the evening doesn’t quite measure up to the beginning. In Sure Thing, two singles meet for the first time in a coffee shop. The play progresses in a nonlinear fashion, demonstrating how any given response can either propel the relationship forward or snuff it out altogether.

Harold Pinter’s The Lover focuses on an aristocratic, tea-sipping British couple. The couple seems exceptionally reserved when discussing ongoing extramarital activities. Pinter adds a note of intrigue to the proceedings, although he, too, cannot help but poke fun at the realities of romance.

“Fourplay” continues through Sept. 5 at the Boulevard Theatre, 2252 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. Tickets are $20. For more information, call (414) 744-5757.


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