Marriage Memoir Debuts In Queens
By TAMMY SCILEPPI
Co-creators and writers Annabelle Gurwitch ("Dinner and a Movie," "Fired!") and Jeff Kahn (The Ben Stiller Show, "The 40 Year Old Virgin") are real-life 15-year marriage survivors. They have adapted their comical, endearing memoir for the stage, in "You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up" - a must-see for anyone who has ever experienced a long-term love/hate relationship.
Ahh…love is in the air at the Queens Theatre in Flushing Meadows Park through Dec. 9 - with a smidgeon of hate thrown in for good measure, a hefty dose of drama and romance and a dollop of sheer craziness.
Channeling their inner Lucy and Desi, actors Gabrielle Mirabella (Annabelle Gurwitch) and Jonathan Van Dyke (Jeff Kahn) set the plot in motion with witty banter, as they make an attempt at communication over a fine pinot noir, at a cozy restaurant in California. They're celebrating ten years of wedded bliss.
Jeff loves his new iPad (we find out what he gets Annabelle at the very end) and the conversation centers around Facebook: How come Jeff's relationship status say "it's complicated," and why won't he friend Annabelle?
Can't a guy have a little privacy? Not if he wants a divorce. So he gives in and friends his wife; his private world shattered.
The real fun begins as the actors show off their improvisational skills during funny courtship flashbacks: Annabelle flipping pancakes at a potluck dinner as Jeff fondly recalls "the potluck pancake spell she put me under," as he keeps misreading her confusing signals - like the time she left her cat Stinky with him for a month and took off with her boyfriend; and that unusual but touching proposal scene between Big Sur and Carmel.
Gradually, the couple's personality differences are revealed. But ironically, it's that schism that makes them love each other even more. Let's face it, opposites do attract, and what right have we to question Cupid's motives?
Gabrielle Mirabella is superb in her role as the cerebral, no-nonsense, exhausted wife and mom, who juggles work and Ezra, and views marriage as a well-oiled machine. Van Dyke, though single, plays the doting, frustrated hubbie to a T.
Her outsize gestures add that comical drama; Van Dyke's antics and shenanigans - like falling over imaginary exploding pre-sex land mines - inject a spark of raw wacky comedy. The audience loved it.
The zingy banter never gets monotonous. Look for that gotcha punchline at every turn, as the two lovers annoy each other to death. This laugh-out-loud, slice of life comedy drudges up all the dirt and dirty laundry swept under marital rugs, while the dregs of a burnt out relationship still hiding a spark of excitement just waiting to be ignited, unfolds. The actors are wonderfully effective at drawing the audience into their lovingly dysfunctional world.
For information, visit www.queenstheatre.org.