Steven Weber and Maura Tierney star in the Williamstown Theatre Festival's superb revival of Jon Robin Baitz's play.
His Party upbringing and Peace Corps principles long shelved, Kenneth is utterly without scruples. Indeed, he has axed his way to the near-top of a multinational that peddles baby formula to Third World nations. His finesse in firing people has cleared a path to the point that he's being groomed to take over as President of the International Division.
Kenneth has an Achilles heel, though: his increasingly critical and unbalanced wife, Barbara -- here portrayed by Maura Tierney, who handles wounded as brilliantly as Weber does conniving.
Kenneth -- whose company's product, in combination with unsanitary drinking water, has caused a spike in infant mortality -- lays out his soulless rationalizations in the first of the play's three monologues, set in Tangiers. (Thomas Lynch's ingeniously interlocking stage design starts out with a luxe Morrocan hotel room, so believably backlit by James F. Ingalls that you can almost feel the sun hammering to get in).
We then move on to St. Thomas to witness Barbara's recap of her recent breakdown -- which could perhaps better be described as a breakthrough. There, Barbara recounts how she gave a new crop of young corporate wives a pep talk --- she chose as her theme "Be Careful" --- and delivered the unvarnished truth about the challenges they would face as sheltered, pampered wives overseas. Few of these women, however, will likely undergo an experience as horrific as her own -- a karmic shocker that Barbara blurts out only minutes into her speech.
The final segment of the play finds Kenneth in the modest Mexican hotel where he and Barbara, their ideals still intact, honeymooned so long ago. The question of whether any part of the lives they meant to live can be salvaged hangs in the air.