Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
The Seven Year Itch
When most people think of The Seven Year Itch, one image comes to mind. It is Marilyn Monroe in that billowing white dress. In just a few brief moments that small segment of film told us all we needed to know about her character. She is youth, innocence and temptress all rolled into one. In the play upon which the film is based, The American Century Theater takes a slightly different tact. Now running at The Gunston Arts Center in Arlington, this production of the George Axelrod play can only be described as being dry.
The Seven Year Itch introduces us to Richard Sherman. Richard has been married for seven years and his wife is leaving him to his own devices for the summer. When he discovers an attractive new tenant in his building, Richard becomes quite fanciful. It is not long before he strives to make his fantasy a reality.
The production team behind this show should be applauded in their attempt to cast against type. Their intent was to stay true to Axelrod's original vision. Given the popularity of the movie, most would expect a blonde bombshell in the role of The Girl. Instead, they have cast Amy Quiggins, a petite brunette who seems to play at being sexy. She definitely portrays an innocence but unfortunately, she comes off more like a little girl who has been playing in her mother's closet, than a provocatively attired siren that is in the midst of attracting her prey.
As Richard Sherman, the husband with a roving eye, Chris Brophy is charged with carrying the majority of the show. As he stands alone on stage, we hear his internal dialogue. However, he never quite connects with the audience. Brophy does have a few comedic moments that work well, but ultimately his portrayal is uneven.
The most glaring problems lie with DeAnna Duncan's direction. The pace of the show is incredibly sluggish and the blocking is uninteresting. Add to that an amateurish supporting cast and the result is a rather mediocre production.
Fortunately, there are a few cast members that rise above the mediocrity. Both Maura McGinn as Richard's wife, Helen, and John C. Bailey as the overblown writer, Tom, perform exceptionally well. Joe Cronin as Dr. Brubaker is also quite strong but his inconsistent accent is a bit distracting. At times, it is not clear if the good doctor is of German descent or from jolly old England.
The set design by Eric Grims is rather bland. However, Michele Reisch's costume designs works well.
At first glance, Richard Sherman seems to be a rather fidgety but upstanding family man. But not unlike this production, in the end he turns out to be a disappointment. The Seven Year Itch runs through January 25th.
The Seven-Year Itch
Richard Sherman: Chris Brophy