Writer/director Jeff Gould snatches a page from the Rod Serling playbook with his fast-paced comedy, The Marriage Zone. A middle-aged couple, Beth (Rene Ashton) and Cal (Matt Harrison), squabble over a planned move to a more upscale neighborhood with a better school for their fifteen-year old son, Ryan (Kody Fields), an amiable sort totally engrossed in his electronic device. She wants the move; he doesn’t. The “for sale” sign on the lawn lures in an attractive young couple, Ellie (Leslie Stratton) and Skip (Ben Bergstrom), newly engaged and in the throes of unconcealed passion. Soon an older couple, Liz (Jacee Jule) and Mike (Michael Dempsey), knock on the door asking to see the place where they lived years before. It becomes clear that the three couples are the very iteration of each other at each stage of life. We are now in “a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is in the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination.” It is, in the playwright’s delightfully whimsical appropriation, The Marriage Zone.
Jeff Gould keeps the action fast-paced. It doesn’t do to dwell too much on the illogical physics of the conceit. The amorous young couple is delightful in their blatant passion for each other. The middle-aged couple is the fulcrum of the play. Their strife doesn’t overshadow their mature affection for each other. And the old couple is a bitter warning of the future. The plot line owes as much to Dickens A Christmas Carol as it does to The Twilight Zone.
There is an alternate cast with seven other actors who play the roles–Monica Young, Dane Bowman, Dawn Joyal, Alex Hyde-White, Britt Rose, Cameron Tagge, and Tanner Fontana. It is unclear whether the casts alternate or mix.
The production is handsomely mounted and I appreciated the preshow music, which hinted at what was to come with music from eras appropriate to the three couples.
The Marriage Zone has been running continually since July, first at the The Secret Rose Theatre in North Hollywood, where its run was extended several times. The show then moved to the Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth Street in Santa Monica, where it is now extended through June 2.
See it while you can.