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A Mid-Life Marriage 

Marriage pronounced "mirage"

In 1962, the celebrated American playwright Edward Albee unleashed on Broadway, Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf, his now classic excoriating dissection of a dysfunctional marriage. At first glance, playwright and director Charles Crosby's Fringe play, A Mid-Life Marriage, seems to have taken the Albee play as a template for his go at examining a marriage on the rocks. Although a well-tilled field by playwrights and novelists over the years, the question: "What is it about marriage that can transform, over a number of years, once lovers turn into seething combatants, daggers drawn?," remains fertile ground for fresh ideas. In A Mid-Life Marriage, Paul, a sociology professor, is turning 35. He feels trapped, by marriage and family as well as what he fears is his own entropy brought about by the aging process. Gnawing at him is a chronic unhappiness whose "cures" - getting a tattoo, buying a motorcyle or taking up bungy-jumping - seem at once, juvenile, regressive and flippant. His wife (subsuming her own marital unhappiness as stoically taking one for the team) throws grumpy Paul a birthday party. She invites over three mutual friends - a couple married for 18 years who still behave (outwardly) like teenagers in the thrall of puppy love and a pretty, alluring, yup, blonde, recently divorced. With wine to lower inhibitions and a game of Pictionary to winkle free the dark recesses of the inner self, this set-up could have been a very effective probative lab for novel, provocative and daring insights into the problems marriage brings to bear on the human condition. Crosby (to my dismay at least) instead delivers up a competent sit-com. Which, for those who use TV comedies and dramas as benchmarks for lives examined, is all well and good. The actors, Leanne Melissa Bishop, Jocelyn Cavert, Shannon Kelly, Colin MacGillivary and Christopher Upshaw acquit themselves well in their roles and would not seem at all out of place in any generic American TV sitcom. Seen Sept. 4

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