It's difficult to know what to make of Flower Duet, Vermont playwright Maura Campbell's seriocomic look at the sexual trials and emotional tribulations of two professional, Boston-transplant couples living outside of Burlington.
Maddie (Jessica Noboa) is married to the callow Sandy (Patrick Joseph Rieger), whose unfaithfulness may be sending their four-year-old daughter (Kara Hume) into autistic withdrawal. Stephanie (Avery Clyde) is in an open, common-law union with the metrosexual and nurturing Max (Adam Mondschein), who has nonetheless begun to bristle at her extra-relational roving.
Much like the prewar writer Rachel Crothers, who used marital melodrama to frame issues of female identity and pre-feminism gender hypocrisy, Flower Duet employs desire and infidelity to compare and contrast the underlying compacts that bind the two very different relationships of its protagonists.
But where Crothers could count on the titillation of her then-transgressive plots to keep her narrative tension torqued, the sheer banality of Campbell's overly familiar, soap-operatic conflicts – exacerbated by Jeffrey Wienckowski's muddy staging – all too quickly grows wearying.
The Road on Magnolia Theatre, 10747 Magnolia Blvd., NoHo; through July 26. (866) 811-4111, roadtheatre.org.
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