Playwright Ann V. Wixon sets before us the well-worn topic of a middle aged woman’s journey through divorce in this one character play. Eve is 45, newly divorced, and comes to a meeting of SWASS, Single Women Actively Seeking Sex. Sex, folks, not love or companionship or even any joined interests are what the lady’s in search of. It’s as though the clock has turned back and we’re all in high school again, hormones a-blazin’.
Let’s start at the beginning. For starters, this production is miscast: Karin Rosnizeck, who plays Eve, is a tall, statuesque blonde with the face of a model and a figure most teenagers would die for. Yet the play is written as one long tirade about a supposedly middle aged woman’s battle with her disappearing looks and her search for a man to replace the ex. But Ms. Roznizeck is lovely enough that this simply does not fit: she looks more like the kind of woman a man would have left his wife for. If the ebb of youth and beauty are the crux of this piece, then casting a beauty as the discarded wife makes little sense.
As for the play itself, absolutely nothing new has been utilized here: Eve can’t date because she has a kid, the ex-husband leaves her because she’s getting older, selfsame ex has a younger girlfriend, Eve has cellulite and feels unattractive, she’s angry at the ex… etc etc. There’s an overlong bit about thong underwear, and that’s about as topical as things get.
Saving Myself for Steve Martin falters not because of Ms. Rosnizeck – she’s doing her darnedest, wringing laughs and sympathy as best she can out of the plodding dialogue. She is a good actor in the wrong role- and stuck with a poorly written, one-note script.
There is some humor, but too much of it is of the self-deprecating, aging body sort, with little awareness of modern women’s attitudes concerning positive body images. When is the last time you heard someone talk about cellulite? Even the title is out of touch. Steve Martin is 69, ladies and gents. Comedic genius that he is, wouldn’t even a 45 year old woman want their fantasy guy to be a little more… current? The writing is, in a word, lazy, outdated and full of tired clichés, all of which we’ve seen before and none of which ring true.
SAVING MYSELF FOR STEVE MARTIN
July 23 – August 8
The Strand Theatre at
Church & Company
3647 Falls Road
Baltimore, MD 21211
Thursdays thru Sundays
Details and Tickets
At one hour and fifteen minutes long with no intermission, the piece seems to go on forever. With no hills or valleys in the narrative and no actual conflict to be resolved other than Eve’s predictable search for a replacement male, it just seemed to be an endless flat prairie of kvetching. I noticed several people quietly checking their cellphones for the time.
Unimaginative directing didn’t help, either. The space at Church and Co is small, but it’s a beautiful setting, and the tall ceilings and Gothic décor of the former church is a good stand-in for the type of public space in which most self-help groups meet. Set design was minimal, just a few chairs, a table and coffee machine, but even these few props were ignored and underutilized. Direction mostly consisted of sitting (always in the same chair) and standing center front (always in the same spot).
Saving Myself for Steve Martin did leave me with some questions, though, so I’ll ask:
Is that all a woman’s journey is? To search for another man- apparently, any man- to replace the one who left you? What about reinvention, self discovery, and, finally, the time to be delighted in the rest of the world that’s out there? Why does it have to boil down to We Are In High School Again And Looking For A Date To The Prom?
Why is it always about dating again, looking younger than our years, and hurry hurry scrambling again to find some guy to tell you you’re pretty? Doesn’t anyone have a mirror out there to see for themselves?
Saving Myself for Steve Martin by Ann V. Wixon . Directed by Miriam Bazensky . Featuring Karin Rosnizeck . Produced by Strand Theater Company . Reviewed by Jill Kyle-Keith.