Sometimes middle-aged couples who have been married for a decade or two will admit that there have been periods of time when they didn’t love their partner at all.  They get caught up in the “is this all there is?” malaise and begin to wonder what possessed them to commit all the rest of their life to this one stranger.

In a new play, “Married People: A Comedy,” now having its world premiere at the Zephyr Theatre in Los Angeles, two couples grapple with this melancholy condition.  Or at least the wives do; the men, for the most part, are oblivious.

Aviva and Jake (Michelle Bernard and Andy Lauer) are extraordinarily fine actors, as are their best friends, Cookie and Henry (Kylie Delre and Paul Parducci).  Their timing is perfect and they are well served by their director, Rick Shaw.  Moreover, their dialogue is hilarious!

So what’s not to love?  Well, for one thing, amidst all the laughter you realize that this play “has no THERE there.”

There is no overriding conflict that the couples need to sort out.  Yes, there’s the sex thing: he wants to and she doesn’t, or vice versa.  But in each marriage the wife runs things and the husbands are mostly clueless.

Cookie and Henry have a son who is gay and Henry can’t get used to the idea.  With Aviva and Jake, Aviva suddenly realizes that she misses the connection she once had to her religion, Judaism.  But with some meaningful conversation, interspersed with a lot of comedy, and a few rounds of pseudo therapy run by Cookie, who had taken a few casual courses in the subject, the couples are able to move on from the places where their marriages had gotten stuck.

Mark Schiff and Steve Shaffer, who wrote and are producing the show, have impressive credits as stand-up comedians.  They have extensive credits on television and in comedy clubs and casinos, and Schiff who has done stand-up for more than 30 years, is currently on tour with Jerry Seinfeld, who calls him “one of the funniest, the brightest, the best stage comics I have ever seen.”

Some 60 years ago this play might have been a successful vehicle for Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, and maybe a couple of decades later for Carroll O’Connor and Edith Stapleton.  It definitely has the flavor of early TV sketch comedy.  But on TV the budget might have allowed Aaron Glazer, the set designer, to do a better job with the set.  It is less than minimalist, with the main feature being the couples’ beds mounted vertically against the wall and long minutes devoted to moving them around for scene changes that sometimes last only a few seconds.

Nevertheless, Jerry Seinfeld has it right.  He says, “If you want to laugh about marriage, go see this play.”  It’s chock-full of yada yada yada.

“Married People: A Comedy” can be seen at the Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Ave., in Los Angeles Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through April 2.  For tickets call (323) 451-2813, or visit http://marriedpeople.bpt.me.

 

 

PHOTO CAPTION

Michelle Bernard, Andy Lauer, Kylie Delre and Paul Parducci star in the world premiere of “MARRIED PEOPLE: A COMEDY” by Steve Shaffer and Mark Schiff – Directed by Rick Shaw and now playing at the Zephyr Theatre in Los Angeles.

 

PHOTO CREDIT:  Sascha Knopf / Knopfoto

 

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