A middle-aged, hard-charging businessman, Oliver Foxx (the fine comic actor Gregg Berger), wants to sell off his company for oodles of dough and take a trip around the world with his wife. The wife, Julia Foxx (Rachel Galper in razor-sharp performance), totally distracted by the book she is writing under contract to a publisher eager to go to print, simply can’t drop what she is doing to comply with her husband’s desire. Their twenty-fifth anniversary celebration has fizzled. He, primed for love in a silk robe, clutches a bottle of wine and sighs unhappily as he sees his evening plans evaporate. She, deep in concentration at her computer, responds to his importuning in the one-word-at-a-time monotone of a multitasker. Frustrated, unhappy and unfulfilled, he trundles off to bed, leaving her focused on her MacBook Pro.
Fade out, fade in and it is morning and there is a couple tumbling in a bed under eight-hundred thread count sheets. When the sheets are thrown off, the businessman finds himself in bed with a nearly naked, very winsome and utterly charming gamine named Gina (the delightful Albina Katsma). To say that Oliver is flabbergasted would be an understatement. It is a Ralph Kramden humunah-humunah-humunah moment. It soon becomes apparent that only he can see her. Gina, twenty, blonde and adorable, is a character escaped from Julie’s book, and she is on a mission.
Albert James Kallis’ new play, A DeLUSIONAL Affair, is a modernized throwback to an earlier time, a combination of screwball and supernatural comedy. A romantic couple at odds calls to mind Hepburn and Tracy, and there have been many characters visible only to the protagonist, Elvira in Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit, for example. Within this premise, Kallis has woven a tale of the sexual conundrum of an unwittingly domineering man and a woman who chafes under that pressure, who, although she loves her husband, yearns to break free. The freewheeling comedy of the early scenes gives way to a more serious exposition of love at cross-purposes, reeling on to dramatic climax and a gentling dénoument.
Smart direction by Chris DeCarlo keeps the pace crisp and the emotions true. The production is handsomely mounted in Santa Monica Playhouse’s snug, delightful main stage, with sets and lights by James Cooper, costumes by Ashley Hayes, and sound design by The Attic Room.
A DeLUSIONAL Affair runs Saturdays at 8:00pm and Sundays at 3:30pm, through April 30 at The Main Stage of Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th Street in Santa Monica.