I use to drink a six pack everyday... of Diet Pepsi. For years, I couldn’t go too long without an icy cold pop. In the car, on the couch, at my desk, Diet Pepsi was a constant companion. One morning, I woke up and declared I no longer drink Diet Pepsi. No concrete reason just a change in affection. My friend questioned the break-up with “but you love Diet Pepsi!” And I countered with, “NO! I only thought I loved it.” After a twenty-year hiatus, Rare Terra Theatre presents the world premiere A BEAUTIFUL SPELL. In the middle of the night, Franny wakes up with an epiphany. She tells her husband, “I don’t love you, Jim!” He tries to calm her night terrors insisting she’s caught between ‘sleep and wakefulness.‘ They’ve been married for 9 years. They have a 5 year old son. As she spills her guts about the change of heart, Jim realizes he’s lost that loving feeling too. Both desperate to get IT back, they passionately debate, screw, and role-play. Were they ever in love or was it just some kind of spell that is over? Is love just a mutual need? A BEAUTIFUL SPELL transports you into a couple’s worst nightmare.
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Playwright Greg Kalleres penned a reality check for relationships. The situation is relatable. The dialogue is natural. The evening spirals out of control for this ‘perfect couple.‘ Kalleres intersperses comedy but the underlying tone is dramatic. The angst is heavy-duty. The middle of the night is the bewitching hours for real desolation. Director Ian Streicher stages a riveting night of relationship deconstruction. Eric Burgher (Jim) and Maggie Corbett (Franny) are perfectly matched. Corbett plays it high-strung and emotionally desperate. Burgher contrasts with pragmatic and agitation. Corbett and Burgher seem like they’ve been together forever. They fight like it too. You’ll know this couple! You’ve seen them at parties. You work with her. You are best buds with him. Now, they are inviting you into their bedroom to experience their darkest hours. Because they are so similar to another ‘perfect couple’ I know, I want to speak up and urge Franny and Jim back to bed. Everything always looks different in the morning.
For married folks, A BEAUTIFUL SPELL is an accidental wake-up call on vacation. It’ll either wake you up to a new day or you’ll go back to sleep. For single people, A BEAUTIFUL SPELL pokes holes in the wedded bliss dream. For all, A BEAUTIFUL SPELL troubles as a sleepless night of unhappiness. I was rooting for the sun to come up for this couple... long before it did. Although the night did stretch on a little longer than necessary, the last few scenes escalate into a captivating conclusion. Suddenly, I’m craving a Diet Pepsi.
Running Time: Ninety minutes with no intermission
At Royal George Gallery, 1641 N. Halsted
Written by Greg Kalleres
Directed by Ian Streicher
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 5pm Thru August 7th
Production photography courtesy of Anthony Robert La Penna