Elizabeth Marvel and Norbert Leo Butz give excellent performances in Michael Weller's less-than-realistic portrait of an unraveling marriage.
Despite the title, Jan (Marvel) and Adam (Butz) take hundreds, maybe thousands of words to snarl through a night of domestic turbulence (made even more terrifying by Rick Sordelet's impressive fight choreography). The result appears as if Weller has looked at Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Ingmar Bergman's Scenes From a Marriage and said to himself, "They think they've demonstrated how gnarled the tied knot can get, but I'll show them what combat really is."
About to enjoy their first evening alone in nine years, because son Greg is on a sleep-over, long-married architect Adam and small-business entrepreneur Jan initially note the tension that's been growing between them before pausing for a few intimate moments on Neil Patel's mouth-watering version of a New York City townhouse. Those happy minutes are fleeting, however, as few members of the audience will fail to guess.
What's been eating at Adam all these months is his missing Jan's sexual pleasures in favor of her staring into a computer while worrying about clients and accounts. What's been gnawing at Jan, among other matters, is her resenting of Adam's unrealistic expectations of what constitutes a happy family, especially with Greg's increasingly odd behavior at school and at home. As the friction mounts, another -- alas unsurprising -- revelation raises the furor by quantum measures.
Granted, Weller writes convincing dialogue for two smart and accomplished people who know each other so well they can quickly locate every pushable button. But convincing dialogue doesn't necessarily equate with a convincing play. Underlying the vicious verbal and physical exchanges is the persistent but inaccurate belief that what constitutes a truly profound connection between a man and a woman is their ability to fight productively.
So before Weller lets Michele Haback's lights fade to black, Weller implies there may be hope for Adam and Jan. Yet from what he's revealed of their effect on one another -- and on young Greg -- they haven't been fighting the healing fight. Indeed, they're not strengthening their union; they're simply delaying its rightful end. While they'd like a choice of 50 words for love to denote the category where they fit, 100 wouldn't get around to their fractiousness.