A Dangerous Proposal | “All Aboard the Marriage Hearse” @ HFF16

All Aboard The Marriage Hearse (HFF16)userpic=fringeClosing out our third weekend of the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) was yet another demonstration of the range that is Fringe. This time, it was a fully realized one-act play — All Aboard the Marriage Hearse — about the institution of marriage. The quality was definitely not Fringe — this was a play that could work on any intimate stage in town.

Here’s the description from the Fringe catalog, which is as good a synopsis as any:

Sean and Amy are your typical co-habitating, Catholic/Jewish, thirty-something couple living in Manhattan. They work hard, love each other and share common goals in life. Well, sort of. After nearly four years together, Amy wants to get married but Sean does not believe in the institution. The game is on!!! Tonight is the night when they will settle the marriage question once and for all. They will both bring their “A” game and the gloves will come off. Sean will try to talk her out of it. Amy will try to talk him into it. Will they break up? Will they keep going on the path they’re on? Will they climb aboard the “Marriage Hearse?”

Author Matt Morillo (FB) uses the play to discuss the value of marriage. Sean strongly does not believe in the institution: he feels it is artificial life support for a relationship, a historic construct with no meaning. He’s willing to commit, for today, for a long term relationship. But make it official in the eyes of the world — nope. Amy, on the other hand, was raised to believe in the value of marriage, and she believes the relationship is at the point where Sean needs to, essentially, put up or shut up.

The resulting argument brings up many interesting points about relationships, and how any why we commit to each other.

If I had any suggestion for the author, it would be that I would want a bit more. To me, the conclusion leaves me dangling. I’d love to see a short second act with the same characters that explores where they are in relation to each other 20 years down the road. What it is the long term impact of their decision: was it the right one or the wrong one. It could be just the thing to flesh this into something fuller and deeper.

The performances were excellent. Tom Pilutik (FB) as Sean, and Jessica Moreno (FB) as Amy have a natural chemistry together; it is easy to believe them as a long-term couple. They just have a comfort with these roles and characters that comes across in their performances. There’s fire when required, but there’s also softness and playfullness. They are just fun to watch.

Tom and Jessica’s performances are augmented by the direction of the author, Matt Morillo (FB), who uses his familiarity with the piece to add to the comfort. There are no real credits for lighting or sound; the lighting in general is naturalistic. Costumes, again, are relatively simple (and now I know what Spanx look like 🙂 ). Erica Lawrence (FB) was the stage manager.  All Aboard the Marriage Hearse was presented by KADM Productions (FB) and produced by Joanne Hartstone (FB).

Alas, we saw the last Fringe presentation of All Aboard The Marriage Hearse. You can vote for the show for awards, and perhaps it will come back for an encore performance.

Attention Programmers! Take the Fringe Programming Challenge! Scheduling your shows at the Fringe can be a pain in the …. I’m trying to solve the problem for next year, so take a look at my specs for a Fringe scheduling app. Can you write it?

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Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre critic; I am, however, a regular theatre audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) and the  Hollywood Pantages (FB); my subscription at  The Colony Theatre (FB) has gone dormant, and REP East (FB) has seemingly gone dark for 2016. Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals).  I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows: Ah, June. Wonderful June. June is the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB), and I’ve already written about the shows I plan to see, as well as suggestions to the Fringe regarding viewing the audience as a customer. Our Fringe/June schedule is as follows (for shows in the past, ✍ indicates writeup is in progress; ✒ indicates writeup is complete and links to the writeup):

Whew. July brings us back to conventional theatre, with Beautiful at the  Hollywood Pantages (FB) and the Western Corps Connection (FB) the first weekend, Grey Gardens at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB); the second weekend, The Little Mermaid at  Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB); the third weekend, Weird Al Yankovic at the Hollywood Bowl (FB) and Operaworks (FB) Opera Re-Constructed at CSUN; the fourth weekend, a mid-week Hollywood Bowl (FB) concert of Wynton Marsalis and Aaron Copeland, and … currently nothing for the weekend. As of right now, August is completely open. One weekend has a bar mitzvah, and there are a few holds for show, but nothing is booked. Late August may see us looking at shows down San Diego/Escondido for one weekend. The best of the shows available — or at least the most interesting — is Titanic from Moonlight Stages. September is similarly mostly hold dates at this point. As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, and Musicals in LA, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves.