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Lary Litt

"All Aboard the Marriage Hearse"

All Aboard the Marriage Hearse
Written and Directed by Matt Morillo
Theater for the New City
155 First Avenue, New York, NY
April 23 to May 16, 2009 (closed)
Reviewed April 23, 2009 by Larry Litt

The eternal battle of the sexes takes a new, modern and hilarious turn in playwright Matt Morillo’s "All Aboard the Marriage Hearse." It's a comedy of romantic desires, traditions scorned, rejected and personally compromised.

Jessica Moreno and Nick Coleman in "All Aboard the Marriage Hearse" Photo by Suzanne Trouve Feff.

Morillo’s anti-establishment social premise of opposition to marriage by young couples living together was explored in part by George Bernard Shaw in his 1908 social satire "Getting Married." Morillo examines marriage itself while Shaw specifically explores the idea of marriage in light of campaigns to liberalize divorce laws in the United Kingdom. Both playwrights argue that marriage is a construct of church, state and family traditions that can be abandoned but can just as easily be a valid choice if both parties consent. The attempt to get both parties to agree on either position is the key in this comedy.

Morillo’s characters, Amy and Sean are locked in a heated battle over their impending future together, a future that includes marriage for Amy, but not for Sean. Given all the logical arguments both use to gain ground against each other, it’s no wonder emotional blackmail wins out in the end. Amy is frozen solid in her nuptial desire. Sean is an immovable object in his resistance. And both are amazingly amusing to us as we watch them say and do things that we have done or fantasized at one time or another to our own loved ones.

Jessica Moreno and Nick Coleman in "All Aboard the Marriage Hearse" Photo by Suzanne Trouve Feff.

What is unique to Morillo’s seemingly sitcom-like vision is his characters’ insistence that above all they are in love. It’s love that drives them to want and fear marriage, it’s love that drives them to want and fear children, it’s love that reminds them of the awful marriages their unhappy parents shared. What’s love got to do with it is the most asked question in a marriage. The answer is… everything!

Jessica Moreno and Nick Coleman in "All Aboard the Marriage Hearse" Photo by Suzanne Trouve Feff.

Perhaps Sean and Amy forgot that love as infatuation is a fleeting moment of happiness and that reality will eventually come upon them. And that reality isn’t whether they’ll fall in love with another person, but whether they can tolerate continuing their love after the initial infatuation. They proclaim their faithfulness repeatedly, but I wondered, just for a moment about that challenge. But that’s yet another play for Morillo to write.

Given that this marriage argument is as common as discussing any other holy sacrament, Morillo provides us with a night of thoughtful laughs. Jessica Moreno as Amy and Nicolas Coleman as Sean make a beautiful young couple with whom we gladly share their Big Dilemma.

Morillo could have transcended the tired sitcom reconciliation trap, if he had discovered a profound new solution to these ubiquitous arguments. This would truly be an interpersonal revelation and cultural shocker. I hope he continues to tread this highly explosive minefield then delivers the result with his usual wit and passion.

Peace and Pleasure,
Larry Litt
'The Bad Patient'

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