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Nuptial Rites and Wrongs

David Allen Publicity

Re-coupling: Nicholas Smith and Rebecca Wink play a divorced couple making a second stab at love in "Wrong for Each Other."

TheatreWorks asks 'Should This Marriage Be Saved?' in premiere production of 'Wrong for Each Other'

By Anne Gelhaus

In the romantic comedy Wrong for Each Other, a divorced couple rehash their relationship and slowly come to realize that perhaps they shouldn't have split up. Unfortunately, TheatreWorks' U.S. premiere of Canadian Norm Foster's play raises a lot of doubts as to whether these two people should ever have been married in the first place.

The play begins with a chance meeting between Rudy (Nicholas Smith) and Norah (Rebecca Wink), who have been divorced for four years. The action shifts back and forth in time as the two reminisce about their relationship, from their first meeting to their first date to their first kiss. But even in their most intimate moments, the pair never offers the audience any more than a fleeting glimpse below the surface of their relationship, and if there is a spark between the two actors, it never really catches fire.

Instead, they keep things light, relying on the sitcom humor of Foster's script instead of exploring their characters too deeply. As a result, their portrayals are fairly one-dimensional. He's needy, and she's neurotic; he's a macho house painter, and she's a meticulous business manager.

Their differences make for some funny moments but don't necessarily make for a believable budding romance. When Rudy declares his love for Norah at the end of the first act, it's still pretty much a mystery as to how this emotion evolved.

Foster tries to add depth to his script in the second act, which opens with the revelation of a personal tragedy that marked the beginning of the end of their marriage. While this tactic does up the ante some, the payoff doesn't measure up in the end. It's difficult to root for Rudy and Norah's reunion after seeing the flashback to their wedding day. Only after the ceremony does Norah tell Rudy she loves him, and she expresses the sentiment more as an admission than a declaration.

The play is co-directed by Vickie Rozell and TheatreWorks' artistic director Robert Kelley. Having one director per cast member seems a bit of a luxury, but Rozell and Kelley do a good job of seamlessly moving the action from present to past.

Allen Blues' multifunctional, if somewhat sparse, set is a good transitional aid; in a couple scenes, he even has the actors seated in the house. Sound designer Henry S. Kim, however, needs to find the volume control. On opening night, the background conversation recorded for the play's restaurant scenes was loud enough to obscure the actors' dialogue.

Wrong for Each Other plays Thursday-Saturday at 8pm and Sunday (April 21) at 2pm through April 21 at the Second Stage, Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, Castro and Mercy streets, Mountain View. Tickets are $15. (415/903-6000)

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From the April 4-10, 1996 issue of Metro

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