ONE GOOD MARRIAGE by Sean Reycraft, directed by Shari Hollett, with Jeff Miller and Mary Francis Moore. Theatre Passe Muraille (16 Ryerson). Runs to February 15, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $23-$32, Sunday pwyc-$16. 416-504-7529. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
You won't find a sharper, more nuanced piece of theatre writing than Sean Reycraft 's One Good Marriage , a remounted SummerWorks hit that gets richer on repeated viewings. It's the first anniversary of small-town couple Steph and Stewart, and they invite us to listen to their shared history from the time they met, he the school librarian and she an English/drama teacher. But from the first, we're told that a tragedy has pursued them. It's Reycraft's teasing out of that story, a series of little plot and character surprises, and the fine performances by Mary Francis Moore and Jeff Miller , that make this production so delicious.
From their first tentative entrance, we know that the couple have secrets. Miller's more gregarious and wide-eyed, with rushed speeches and lots of nervous body language. Moore's quieter, takes a while before she can look at her partner with much confidence and presents a plastic smile that has neither warmth nor humour. Though he regularly calms his wife by asking her to focus on mundane objects, little tensions between them surface.
Under Shari Hollett 's careful direction, details of character and story mount to a chilling but darkly funny climax. Dragged into this couple's unforgettable catastrophe - the two spiral around a fate they can't easily escape - we're given a striking spin on death and the difficulty of consolation. You'll never look at a Canadian Legion Hall the same way again.