New Comedy, Half and Half, Is James Sherman's Look at Marriage Since the '70s

News   New Comedy, Half and Half, Is James Sherman's Look at Marriage Since the '70s
James Sherman's new comedy, Half and Half, getting its world premiere May 26-July 9 at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theatre, explores the changing roles of husbands and wives over the past 30 years.

The Chicago writer known for his Beau Jest! and AFFLUENZA! "examines how husbands and wives accept and reject their roles, how their roles have changed, and how their roles just might be changing back in his new world premiere comedy."

According to VGT, "Half of all marriages end in divorce. So half of all marriages continue, right? Maybe. In Half and Half, Sherman explores marriages past and present in two related one-act plays. Act One is set at a breakfast in 1970, where the breadwinner husband reads the newspaper and the homemaker wife fries the eggs. In Act Two, at a breakfast taking place this morning, a career-minded wife reads the paper while her stay-at-home husband cooks the frittata."

Half and Half is Sherman's 12th play and 11th world premiere at Victory Gardens in 20 years, making Sherman and fellow VGT Playwrights Ensemble member Jeffrey Sweet the theatre's most produced playwrights. Like the 11 preceding it, Half and Half will be directed by Victory Gardens artistic director Dennis Zacek, marking a career-long playwright/director relationship "comparable to Lanford Wilson and Marshall W. Mason or Anton Chekhov and Konstantin Stanislavsky," quipped Sherman, in press notes.

Sherman's 1999 VGT world premiere From Door to Door was inspired by his mother's life, while his mother-in-law's inspires Half and Half.

The work also has its roots in "For a Happy Marriage, Treat Husband Like Fido," an op-ed piece Sherman wrote for Newsweek in 2005. It was his response to Dr. Laura Schlesinger's new book "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands." At the time, Sherman wrote, "...aside from the obvious uproar that would result if a man wrote 'The Proper Care and Feeding of Wives' (a kiss on the cheek, a bouquet of flowers and a little extra allowance so she can buy that new handbag?), I am astonished to learn that there are those who believe that the future of marriage is to go hurtling into the past...When the women's movement allowed women to break free of the conventional, it created the same possibilities for men, too. Isn't that, truly, what equality means?"

Half and Half features Joe Dempsey, Laura Fisher and Mattie Hawkinson.

Designers are Mary Griswold (set), Christine Pascual (costumes), Rita Pietraszek (lights) and Andre Pluess (sound). Tina M. Jach is production stage manager.

Victory Gardens is located at 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. For tickets or information, call (773) 871-3000 or visit

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