Regional Reviews: Phoenix
You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up!
Written by the authors of the book, Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn, I Say Tomato ... is a funny overview of their real life relationship. Set on their 10th wedding anniversary, it follows the couple's first fifteen years together, from their first meeting through their courtship, marriage, the birth of their child, and the highs and lows that all of those life events bring with them. Gurwitch and Kahn have expertly adapted their book to the stage to bring the comical and serious situations to theatrical life.
Playing Annabelle and Jeff are Kate Dulcich and Michael Greer. Both have played these roles in previous productions of the play, and their expert handling of the funny and dramatic moments is superb. Dulcich portrays Annabelle's practical view of relationships with ease. She expertly shows Annabelle's somewhat pragmatic side to the situations but provides a perfect sense of realism in her line readings that allows the character not to come across as cold, but instead as being completely honest and rational. Greer has a natural ability to show Jeff's optimistic viewpoints. His "aw, shucks" mentality adds an abundance of charm to the part's romantic view of relationships. Greer is also adept in the few improv moments that can result when dealing with a play in which the characters interact with the live audience.
Director Van Kaplan allows the pace of the 80-minute show to move appropriately, with the funny moments getting a nice punch but the more serious ones having enough time to resonate. Scenic designer Tony Ferrieri and lighting designer Andrew David Ostrowski have created simple but effective designs. Ferrieri's use of large screen panels and a few tables and chairs adequately portray the high-end restaurant setting, and Ostrowski's lighting directs the audience's eye to the focus of each moment, along with some effective effects on the large panels.
There are numerous laugh out loud moments in the witty script. But just as many times when you'll find yourself identifying with the less humorous situations and life lessons that the characters have encountered. Gurwitch and Kahn have found a way to not only portray some of their very personal experiences on stage but have them solidly connect with the audience. While it might be a "wart's and all" view of relationships, it is also an honest, very funny and realistic view that anyone will relate to.
I Say Tomato, You Say Shut Up! runs through January 25th, 2015, at the Herberger Theater Center, 222 E. Monroe Street in Phoenix. Tickets can be purchased by calling 602-252-8497 or at herbergertheater.org. Additional information can be found at www.thetomatocomedy.com.
Written By Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn