The language of Alexandra Gersten’s caustically funny and equally painful examination of a crumbling marriage navigates perfectly between heightened lyric fancy and earthy reality. We begin with an ordinary breakfast routine between spouses that soon begins to simmer, then quickly boils over into a full-blown war over infidelity that defines Gersten’s fascinating play. Johanna McKay offers a virtuoso performance as Elly, a frumpy housewife who throws down the gauntlet over her husband’s affair. As husband Jack, Josh Randall keeps pace with McKay, making their epic battle as exciting and moving as the best of Edward Albee’s early work. Kelly (Heather Fox) — the gorgeous, simple yet unapologetic object of Jack’s straying — is so comically brittle that the intensity of this production continues to grow. Only a bizarre set piece, in which a loony guidance counselor (played with caricatured frenzy by John Schumacher) comes to castigate Elly about her parenting, rings false. Fortunately, this scene fades from memory in Darin Anthony’s otherwise exquisite staging. Sherry Linnell’s witty costume design is best exemplified by Elly’s ugly, slobby sweats. Tom Buderwitz’s naturalistic home interiors are set against a too-slick set of walls that detract from the über-reality of much of the play’s action.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Thu., March 27, 8 p.m. Starts: Feb. 29. Continues through April 5, 2008

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