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The Marriage Zone
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The Marriage Zone
Written & Directed by Jeff Gould

The Secret Rose Theatre
11246 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, 91601

Reviewed by Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros NoHoArtsDistrict.com

I was fortunate enough to see Jeff Gould’s last play at The Secret Rose, It’s Just Sex…which was hilarious and painfully accurate. So is was with no small amount of happy anticipation that I attended the opening night of The Marriage Zone.

This new play by Jeff focuses on a totally different side to marriage…the slow, sad, drifting apart.

Beth and Cal are still living in the same house they bought when they first got married, with their teenage son Ryan. It’s clear that they aren’t getting along as well as they used to and Beth thinks that by selling the house and moving to a more upscale neighborhood, although it would stretch them financially, would be the best all of them…Cal does not agree.

One evening there is a knock on the door and a young couple asks if they can look around the house. Reluctant at first, since they have no agent, Beth sees something in the couple that reminds her of how things used to be between her and Cal, so she lets them in. What happens next is a strange and compelling twist on the quandary of unexpected guests and when there is a second knock at the door it becomes pretty clear that this isn't your usual living room “dramedy.”

I don’t want to give too much away, but the title The Marriage Zone is obviously a reference to The Twilight Zone, so let’s leave it at that.

I’ve been married for a while now, happily, but we all have our periods of doubt, or drama or even thoughts of “what the hell am I doing” and I found the play to be a very real and heartfelt glimpse into one particular couple's life of compromise as well as love.

The cast is superb, absolutely brilliant, and they all work so effortlessly together to weave this complex and unusual tale. The writer is also the director, which is not always the most perfect arrangement. But I really couldn't fault the play at all, so I guess it worked out pretty well in this case!

It’s a one act, which I find I like more and more, the more plays I see… not just because of the time factor, but because a fifteen-minute break just does too much to take you out of the world that everyone is working so hard to build up around you. This world, The Marriage Zone is one that’s well worth spending some time in. I actually texted a few friends to get some tickets, and I rarely do that I can tell you!

I highly recommend The Marriage Zone at The Secret Rose. Don't be afraid to take your spouse, unless you are trying to get rid of them of course, in which case I am sure you can find Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf playing somewhere…


Huntington Beach News

Hollywood Snippets
by Ron Irwin

‘The Marriage Zone’ Will they survive?

It seems simple enough, a couple want to move up in life a little, get a new home in a better school district to help give the son a better education. And why not also amp their own lifestyle a little bit? So Cal and Beth put their home up for sale. But as this tale begins the audience immediately sees that there is tension in the home. Cal and Beth are more than just a little snappy with each other. Oh sure there is evidence of love but there is also evidence of potentially destructive behavior that could ultimately end their marriage. In essence this show begins at a critical pivotal time in the lives of Cal and Beth.

Then there is a knock on the door and there stand Mike and Liz a young couple obviously passionately in love and recently engaged. They saw the for sale sign and want to see the house so they are invited in. Soon the conversation reveals many similarities between the two couples. Even certain behaviors show commonality. Very interesting but it gets even better because a senior couple arrive next. They also request entry to the home. Their interest is that many years ago they once lived in that home and they happened to be passing by and want to revisit their old home. They too are admitted and they too quickly begin to exhibit a certain eerie commonality of thought and behavior with Cal and Beth.

What happens next is an interchange of conduct and thought that transforms the experience into “The Marriage Zone.” The tale told has certain aspects similar to “A Christmas Carol” with the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future for as it turns out the young couple are a retelling of the relationship between Cal and Beth when they first got married and the elderly couple reveal a less than totally pleasant conclusion to their marriage.

The entire show is filled with abundant humor and remains very entertaining. But at the same time it is an excellent mirror reflecting upon elements that often create stress within relationships and which all too often can and do result in a painful termination of those relationships. So what playwright and director Jeff Gould has done is to create and present a work of theatrical art that teaches some very important life lessons while at the same time keeping the audience laughing and therefore thoroughly enjoying the experience. I enthusiastically recommend that you take a trip into “The Marriage Zone.”

The show is at The Secret Rose Theatre, 11246 Magnolia Boulevard, North Hollywood, California 91601. Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m.

Reservations may be made by calling 323-960-7784 and tickets may be purchased online at: www.plays411.com/marriagezone.


San Diego Jewish World

Three couples zoned out at The Secret Rose Theatre
by Cynthia Citron

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, California — The attractive middle-aged couple is having a fight. It’s not one of those screaming, throwing-things-at-each-other kind of fights. Rather, it’s the irritable kind of bickering where every time he opens his mouth she argues with whatever he has to say.

This time the argument is about selling the house they have lived in for 20 years. She wants to “move up” to a nicer house in a better neighborhood. He wants to stay where they are. Nevertheless, she appears to be winning. They have put the house up for sale.
It’s a fast-paced opening to playwright Jeff Gould’s delightful and hilarious take on a marriage that has lasted long enough for the participants to become permanently annoyed with each other. We all know how that works, right?

The play is The Marriage Zone, the fourth play in which Gould explores the relationships between men and women. His other plays are Troubled Waters, Is There Sex After Marriage?, and It’s Just Sex. After these successful comedies you might consider Gould something of a marriage maven. And his absurdly funny, realistic dialogue confirms it.
So in the midst of their kerfuffle there is a knock at the door. It’s a young couple (very young!) who’ve been engaged for two days and would like to look at the house as a possible first home for themselves. Immediately, the lady of the house, Beth (Anne Leighton) turns into a charming hostess, while her husband Cal (Jeff Pride) continues to scowl.

The young couple, Ellie and Skip (Megan Barker and Ryan Cargill) are at that stage in their love affair where they can’t stop climbing all over each other every few minutes. And they love the house.
But their dewy-eyed appraisal is interrupted by another knock at the door. It’s an older couple, Liz (Jacee Jule) and Mike (Alex Hyde-White), who have dropped by to look at the house where they had lived when they were newly married. Their relationship to each other is confrontational, almost a continuation of the exasperated conversation Beth and Cal were having before everybody showed up,
And then there is Ryan (Ciaran Brown), Beth and Cal’s 15-year-old son.

As the three couples converse they discover a plethora of coincidences in their lives. In fact, as it turns out, they are all the same couple at different stages in their life. And as the secrets pour out—-infidelities, divorce, and drug addiction—-the convoluted plot, filled with denials, apprehension, and confusion, becomes more serious, and also more riotous.

Ellie decides that there is no reason to marry Skip if their marriage is going to end in divorce. Whereupon Beth becomes frantic, realizing that if Ellie and Skip don’t marry they will never produce their mutual son, Ryan. And Mike offers the opinion that his marriage to Liz began to suffer when they decided to sell the house.
And so it goes. All seven actors play it straight, and under the superb direction of the playwright, Jeff Gould, they produce a wonderful, suspenseful comedy that everyone can enjoy. No matter your age or marital stage, The Marriage Zone is the play to see.

This world premiere of The Marriage Zone can be seen Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 3 through August 27th at The Secret Rose Theatre, 11246 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. Call (323) 960-7784 for tickets or online at www.Plays411.com/marriage zone.

*
Citron is a freelance writer specializing in coverage of the arts. She may be contacted via cynthia.citron@sdjewishworld.com


Stage Raw

Secret Rose Theatre

The Marriage Zone

Reviewed by Paul Birchall
Through August 27

RECOMMENDED

My favorite episodes of Doctor Who, that amazing TV series about a time traveling alien that’s run for about 40 years, are the ones in which the Doctor meets earlier versions of himself. When the older character meets the younger character, there are always jokes about how the younger version hates how he turned out — while the older version always criticizes the younger version’s taste or intelligence or what have you.

Playwright Jeff Gould’s rather sweet comedy about marriage bends time in the same way as one of those Doctor Who episodes, focusing on a married couple who encounter two versions of themselves — one when they are younger and just starting their relationship, and another, when they are a pair of miserable elder divorcees.

Now, if I were to meet my older self, the first thing I’d ask is what stock market tips he might have for me, and what the winning lottery numbers are. However, when folks in plays meet their older selves, they always seem more interested in what, in the real world, I would probably regard as incidental — for example, whether or not they will find romance. Pish tush: Keep the romance, let me know about whether my appendix is going to burst.

Gould’s comedy pays homage to the mood and tone of one of the old Twilight Zone episodes, complete with an opening narration by a somber-voiced fellow (Ciaran Brown) channeling his best Rod Serling. Beth (Anne Leighton) and Cal (Jeff Pride) are a married couple, just entering middle age, with a cranky teenage son (Brown). Their marriage is most assuredly on the rocks, with the current conflict over their family home, which Beth wants to sell (ostensibly to move to a better, more affluent neighborhood), while Cal just wants to save the money.

Just as Cal and Beth start to discuss a separation, there’s a knock on their door. It’s a young, recently engaged couple, Skip (Ryan Cargill) and Ellie (Megan Barker), who are interested in the house. As the two couples talk, they become aware that they have a lot in common — like, everything.

Before they can marvel over the weird meeting, another couple — elderly Mike (Alex Hyde-White) and Liz (Jacee Jule) — show up on the doorstep, claiming to have lived in the house years ago and wanting to take a look at it, for old times sake. Yes, Mike and Liz turn out to be Beth and Cal thirty years on, as well as Skip and Ellie sixty years on. As the three couples learn of their destinies, complications ensue, and personal history could very well be changed.

Gould’s writing is crisp, glib and playful, and his production engagingly explores the wacky idea that these three couples are the same people at different points in their lives. Admittedly, this isn’t a piece with much narrative heft; moreover, the issues it raises are efficiently resolved. Nor are the older characters anxious to detail the horrors of growing old: The focus is mostly on the younger people, who have energy and power, rather than the older, wiser folks, who are portrayed as glum in a manner that borders on cliché. (Why does everyone old have to turn into a wisecracking Alter Kocher?)

Still, the performances are surprisingly nuanced, particularly during scenes in which characters demonstrate knowing more about each other than they choose to say. As the youthful couple, Cargill and Barker are appealingly genial and headstrong, while as the cynical elders Hyde-White and Jule are appropriately hard-bitten and sour-faced. It’s probably best not to poke at the plot’s glaring holes, such as why the middle-aged pair can’t remember meeting the young couple back in the day, or why the oldest couple can’t recall meeting either of the others. Doctor Who episodes have a convoluted explanation for this sort of phenomenon, but Gould instead chooses to keep things breezy and un-analytical.

As the increasingly bewildered couple in midlife, Pride and Leighton are well-matched and suggest people at a turning point in their lives. It is sometimes a little difficult to buy the plot’s basic premise — frankly, as rendered, these characters occasionally seem like different people entirely. But that may be Gould’s point: If I met my 20-year-old self, we would probably not recognize each other, and you can hardly expect people to behave precisely the same way over a 60-odd year span.

Note: The show is double cast.

Secret Rose Theater, 11246 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; through August 27. (323) 960-7784. Running time: 80 minutes.


Theatre Spoken Here

THE MARRIAGE ZONE …North Hollywood

What if you were able to view your life as it was in the past, and will be in the future? Would you refuse to accept the inevitable, or do you believe your destiny has been decided by some unknown power. Welcome to The Marriage Zone, where a couple halfway through their not-so-happy wedded lives are confronted with just such questions. It’s an intriguing conceit and handled brilliantly by author and director Jeff Gould and, after you see this play, you will never think of your own relationships the same way again.

Actually, with this excellent cast, it’s a sweetly told story of a marriage that is starting to unravel. Beth (Anne Leighton) cannot stop picking on her husband Cal (Jeff Pride); he has sunk into a sardonic attitude that blocks her out, while their son Ryan (Ciaran Brown) has his ears plugged into a world of music. It’s a familiar domestic comedy until visitors arrive: Skip and Ellie (Ryan Cargill and Megan Barker), young and in love, can’t keep their hands off each other; Mike and Liz (Alex Hyde-White and Jacee Jule), cynical, divorced and full of regrets. We recognize these people because we are these people.

On another level it’s a triangle between wide eyed youth, mid-career strugglers, and jaded elders. Gould also has a sense of humor that pokes fun at us! e.g. just as my companion whispered to me “I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone” the onstage senior said the exact words.

At The Secret Rose Theatre, 11246 Magnolia Blvd. NoHo, through August 27. Tickets: 323-960-7784 or www.Play411.com/marriagezone Photos by Ed Krieger.

Also reviewed in the August issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.




Betrayal and ‘what ifs’ enter The Marriage Zone at Secret Rose Theatre

By M. Jarrett Christensen on July 13, 2017 - Theatre Reviews (TOLUCAN TIMES)

Imagine if you will, a paradox in time, where a couple has the chance to alter the future by changing the past while still in the present. Consider the choices we take, the paths we follow, the lines we cross to become who we are and how each decision cascades into consequence, be it reward or tragic. The trick is with the inclusion of others and how that can create a life of happiness and joy, or loneliness and frustration.

Jeff Gould’s The Marriage Zone is an excellent example of fusing drama and comedy together with relevant and entertaining results.

We are introduced to a seemingly happy couple (an outstanding Anne Leighton as Beth and Jeff Pride as Cal) planning to move into a better neighborhood. Beth wants the move, Cal doesn’t. Their bickering opens up some old wounds. Then bells ring, a young couple, Ellie (a vivacious Megan Barker) and Skip (Ryan Cargill) want to take a peek. Banter ensues and they discover that Ellie and Skip are Beth and Cal 20 years prior. Gould does an outstanding job with dropping subtle cultural references without going over the top.

And to take it up a notch, another knock on the door and couple Mike (Alex Hyde-White) and Liz (Rene Ashton) are the same couple 20 years hence. Ellie makes a decision that has a butterfly effect. Now they must sort through betrayals and secrets to discover if their marriage is worth fighting for.

The production is blessed with a stellar cast and a great script. There are tender moments as well as comedic. Interesting in how the little things can have such large repercussions.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

The Marriage Zone” plays through Sunday, August 27 at the Secret Rose Theatre located at 11246 Magnolia Blvd. in North Hollywood. Visit Plays411.com/marriagezone or call (323) 960-7784.

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