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A Perfect Couple

Brooke Berman's new play about three old friends covers familiar ground in a charmingly bittersweet fashion. logo
James Waterston and Annie McNamara
in A Perfect Couple
(© Richard Mitchell)
Most of what happens in Brooke Berman's charmingly bittersweet new play A Perfect Couple, now at the DR2, will be familiar to anyone who's ever been single and visited with old friends who are happily partnered, but that doesn't make the play any less delightful or thoughtful.

Isaac (James Waterston) and Amy (Dana Eskelson) have been partnered, albeit on and off, for 15 years and are about to finally tie the knot. They've invited Emma (Annie McNamara), Amy's best friend for some 20 years, up to their country home (handsomely designed by Neil Patel). Like Isaac, Emma is a photographer; but she prefers to focus her energies on her career. Her personal life revolves around a series of younger men with whom she can tryst with sexually or men who are unavailable, and during her time with Isaac and Amy, their conversations invariably turn to Emma's "woeful" status as a single woman.

That's the familiar part. What's unfamiliar is the diary from Isaac's late stepmom that surfaces while Emma's visiting. In it, some details about a weekend that Isaac spent at the house are revealed, causing all three to reassess their views on relationships and one another. Depending on one's interpretation, the "perfect couple" of Berman's title could refer to any number of duos among this trio.

Not only is there comedy and drama to be had in the interpersonal relationships between these three characters, but there's also a fascinating reflection on what it means to investigate and relive one's past. More interestingly, Berman shrewdly thrusts one much younger character, Josh (the fine Elan Moss-Bachrach), the recent Bard grad who lives next door to Isaac and Amy, into this otherwise mature work. Although Josh does not feel as fully developed as the other three characters, the "from the mouths of babes" wisdom that he provides is needed not only by Isaac, Amy and Emma, but also by the audience.

Director Maria Mileaf mines the various tones of Berman's writing and elicits a host of intricately detailed performances from the main trio. Eskelman's Amy is a terrific portrait of a control freak, who has a far richer emotional life than one might expect. McNamara imbues Emma with combination of quirkiness, vulnerability and intelligence that both amuses and touches. And as the unflappable Isaac, Waterston's performance gracefully deepens in intensity as the weekend progresses.

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