Unhappy in Love

The unraveling of a marriage is a dreary thing to behold

The attractive cast is fine. David Kwiat has a beautiful voice that he pours generously into Edward's lines, creating an ultimately touching portrait of a man more used to lecturing than to feeling. Lisa Morgan's Alice, the only character allowed to hint at growth in the script, is a marvelous thundercloud of nervous energy with a dangerous edge and an amusing British lisp. As their son Jamie, Andrio Chavarro shows both promise and inexperience. He is poignant while sitting at the dining table watching his mother fall apart, but he also seems at sea while standing up doing nothing, and his stage demeanor announces the actor's -- not the character's -- discomfort. All three have discreet, vaguely untraceable British accents, though Chavarro's occasionally strays into colonial territory.

H. Paul Mazer's set is unimaginative but it works, making use of the Biltmore's problematic stage width by creating several distinct, naturalistic rooms separated only by Jeff Quinn's basic, effective lighting. Jen Howard's costumes are unflattering but not out of place. No one would claim that a history teacher in the sticks, his poetry-reading wife, and their bachelor son have to be stylish.

"The thing about unhappiness," Alice says in the depths of Act Two, "is that after a while it stops being interesting." There is unquestionably plenty of unhappiness on display in the very chatty scenes from a marriage that make up Nicholson's The Retreat from Moscow, and certainly Kwiat and Morgan do a lot to make us care. But it somehow, after a while, seems uninteresting. Alice has a point.

A nicely observed British soap opera: David Kwiat, Andrio Chavarro, and Lisa Morgan
George Shiavone
A nicely observed British soap opera: David Kwiat, Andrio Chavarro, and Lisa Morgan

Details

Written by William Nicholson. Directed by Joseph Adler. With David Kwiat, Lisa Morgan, and Andrio Chavarro. Through February 27. 305-445-1119.
GableStage at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave, Coral Gables

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