Boston Marriage, David Mamet's exercise in Victorian comedy of manners, which began its New York premiere at The Public Theater's Martinson Hall Nov. 5, has extended its run to Dec. 22.
Karen Kohlhaas directs the work, which opens Nov. 20 and was to have run through Dec. 8. Kate Burton and Martha Plimpton—two of the many Hedda Gablers that dotted America last season—star in the three-character, quasi-period piece. Arden Myrin takes the third role of Catherine, the confused, much-put-upon Scottish maid.
Boston Marriage (the title was a Victorian euphemism for a lesbian relationship) is an odd departure for man's man Mamet. The play is about the prickly and arch relationship between Clare and Anna, two proper society women. The conniving Anna (Burton) has found a new lover protector and hopes to share the new nest he has paid for with her lady love. But Clare (Plimpton), the paramour in question, has other plans, and wants to use the premises for a tryst with her new, young conquest. This instigates a brittle, wordy battle of wills during which the ladies enlist as weapons some extravagant costumes, a necklace, the cliched advice of the maid's "Gran" — and a fair number of disused words from the dictionary.
Though Mamet and Oscar Wilde would seem to have little in common, the stylized dialogue of Boston Marriage often has a witty, airy Importance of Being Earnest quality to it—albeit, with anachronistic interjections of Mametian gutter talk.
The ornate pink sitting room was designed by Walt Spangler, while Paul Tazewell provides some intricate and stunning dresses. Robert Perry designed the lighting. *
Kate Burton replaced "Sex and the City" star Kim Cattrall, who was announced in ads and then withdrew from the project. Burton, who plays Anna, won two Tony nominations last spring, for The Elephant Man and Hedda Gabler. Her other credits include Give Me Your Answer, Do!, Jake's Women and Some Americans Abroad.
Martha Plimpton, who takes the role of Claire, earned solid reviews in last season's Atlantic Theatre Company production of Hobson's Choice. Much of her stage work has been seen in Chicago at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, where she is an ensemble member, and where she acted in Hedda Gabler. That performance was favorably compared by some to Kate Burton's Huntington-to-Broadway turn.
Myrin acted at the Public a decade ago in Pericles, a Michael Greif staging that also featured Plimpton. Myrin and Plimpton also worked together on Hobson's Choice and Playboy of the Western World.
Mamet's wife, Rebecca Pidgeon, starred in the 1999 U.S. debut in Boston.
The London cast of the play featured Zoë Wanamaker, Anna Chancellor and Lyndsey Marshal.
Tickets are $55. The Public is located at 425 Lafayette Street (on Astor Place). For information, call (212) 239 6200.
—By Robert Simonson