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Interview with David Alan Basche and Alysia Reiner

By Charles Battersby

Alysia Reiner with Richard Short in Wasps in Bed
Husband and wife acting duo David Alan Basche and Alysia Reiner have been wooing moviegoers in such films as United 93 and Sideways, plus impressing theatergoers in plays like Snakebit and Anaïs Nin: One of Her Lives. They're currently starring Off-Broadway in Wasps In Bed, but managed to find a few minutes to spare to speak with me about their new show, and to give a little advice on how to deal with being married to an actor.

Charles Battersby:   Wasps in Bed is about three couples that get together for a weekend, right?

David Alan Basche:   It's like The Big Chill meets Noises Off.

CB:   And you play a guy named Allan.

DAB:   Allan is otherwise known as The Duke of Doggie Dinners. He's made his fortune producing dog food.

CB:   And Alysia, you play Raina?

Alysia Reiner:   Correct, I play one of "The Politicals."

CB:   So you two aren't playing a couple in this.

DAB:   Aye, there's the rub. In fact, we're each kissing other people on stage.

CB:   And how do you feel about that as a couple? Any jealousy?

DAB:   We figure it's sanctioned swinging.

AR:   Absolutely. I have a real feeling about this. Actors, if you have a good marriage, you're the luckiest people in the world. Because you get to pretend, and you get to fool around and play onstage, then you get to go home to your happy marriage.

I hate to talk dirt about anyone but - when [actors] fall in love in plays or films, then leave their [real-life] spouses for this new relationship, I feel like "Dude, you missed the point."

CB:   Have you guys performed on stage in anything together before?

AR:   We met doing Shakespeare in Vermont.

David Alan Basche with kelly Deadmon
DAB:   We've been in a couple of things since then. A few summers ago we were in a play called Love In The Age Of Narcissism. In that, we were a couple. Quite unhappily married. And both cheating with other people. I was cheating with another woman - and so was she.

AR:   Ironically, when we met doing Shakespeare in Vermont, we were doing Twelfth Night, and we were supposed to fall in love. He was playing Sebastian and I was playing Olivia. But the Director had a little thing for me, so he wouldn't ever rehearse our scenes together. We never got to kiss onstage until opening night. Every time the kiss would come, the director would be like "Yeah yeah yeah, let's move on."

CB:   You mentioned earlier that fictional naughtiness is a good thing for a marriage between actors.

DAB:   Oh, it definitely is. Whoever it is that Alysia's been kissing onstage, I'm the one that benefits - because whatever passion she discovers, she brings home to me. That's the rule.

We say to each other, "Go enjoy your play and the reality of the moment, and then whatever passion and emotion comes out of that, bring it home to me." It works out fine.

CB:   Sounds like good advice for anyone dating an actor.

DAB:   Actually the good advice for any who's dating an actor is "Don't."

AR:   Yeah, I swore I'd never date an actor - and look at me now!

CB:   Do you ever have to go long periods away from each other?

AR:   We have a Two Week rule. Whoever is working, the other one tries to get to see them at least every two weeks. But this past fall/winter, I was in LA and we went a month because of our shooting schedules. And that sucked.

CB:   Any other advice?

AR:   For being two actors in a relationship - jealousy happens. That's just the truth of it. There have been times where I'm "more successful" and there have been times when David's been "more successful."

Even though we'll never go out for the same role - you're jealous of one another, and having the honesty to say "I'm jealous" and not being ashamed to say that of yourself is really key.

We're always writing each other little notes. I cook for David all the time. I make him breakfast in bed a lot, I put little notes -

DAB:   Inside my script pages, I get post-it notes with naughty messages. And Alysia will come home to flowers for no reason whatsoever. There's that kind of general appreciation, but, because we're both in the same field, we can appreciate what the other person is going through, so there's empathy in that way.

CB:   How did you come to do Wasps in Bed?

DAB:   We each heard about this play. Alysia heard about it through her manager, I heard about it through my agent. Alysia auditioned on a Monday, I auditioned on a Tuesday. They didn't know that we even knew each other, let alone that we were married.

When Alysia got a callback and I didn't, I was furious, and I told her. She was on the phone, and I said "Who the hell is that? Did you get a callback for that damn play and I didn't get one?" I said I really liked that play. It's funny, it's entertaining and I really wanted to do it. She felt horrible and didn't want to tell me that she got the callback. Then, two hours later I got a callback.

Similarly, when we were offered the job ... She got the phone call first, and she got the job, and I didn't hear from them for over a week.

When Alysia was shooting the Sideways, I was incredibly jealous. Alexander Payne is a director I'd really really like to work with. I loved About Schmidt, I loved Election - I was terribly jealous. But I just had to trust that whatever success she found from that film, she would share with me. And that I would find my own success in film, in my own way.

AR:   What we've learned to do in our relationship is express that one person's success is shared success. My success is not mine, it's ours.

CB:   What's coming up next for you two?

Basche & Reiner:  Vacation.

Wasps in Bed closed on October 15th, and Basche' film "United 93" was just released on DVD.

Photos: Bruce Glikas

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