In 1944, Hallmark Cards adopted its marketing slogan: "When you care enough to send the very best." Often, when receiving a lame card or gift, someone will try to cover their disappointment by saying "That's okay, it's the thought that counts."
For many people in relationships, it's often a lack of thought on the part of their spouse or partner that can lead to a growing sense of betrayal. An unexpected attack or threat to one's vulnerability, coupled with a growing awareness of another person's faults, can launch a growing tally of tiny paper cuts that slowly kill a relationship.
If, like Michelle Obama, you have a healthy sense of perspective, you learn to cope with your spouse's weak points. In this clip from a recent appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the First Lady talks about the realities of living with President Barack Obama.
I have always treasured this clip of Mary Martin and Robert Preston performing "Nobody's Perfect" from the 1966 Tom Jones & Harvey Schmidt musical, I Do! I Do!
While it's easy for couples to knowingly take aim at each other's weak points, something peculiar happens when a couple consists of two people who are in the same profession. What might not have been perceived as a dig or insult by the person who delivered it can be taken to heart quite deeply by the person on the receiving end of a casual assumption.
Early into Annie Baker's new play, Body Awareness, Phyllis makes an offhand remark to her lesbian partner, Joyce, which provokes an unexpectedly tense response. Without meaning to sound condescending, Phyllis (who is a Professor of Feminist Psychology at Vermont's Shirley State College) tells her lover that only academics are granted a particular kind of status in the educational landscape. When Joyce protests that she, too, considers herself to be an academic, Phyllis matter-of-factly explains that a person has to have a Ph.D. and publish articles in order to be taken seriously as an academic whereas Joyce only teaches social studies in a public high school.
But that's not the only problem confronting the couple.
As Baker's play unfolds, tensions continue to mount.
All of these roiling passions must suddenly be put on hold when Jared does something dangerously stupid that requires support and guidance from both of his parents. Although Frank plays the straight man to everyone else's hysterical outbursts, he is obviously not the kind of person who should be giving much advice to anyone.
Joy Carlin has directed the Bay area premiere of Body Awareness with a keen sensitivity to the kinds of remarks that can blow up in one's face and quickly escalate a simple misunderstanding to the point where two people might seem close to ending a relationship. She also does a beautiful job of balancing Jared's antisocial behavior with his emotional and psychological vulnerability.
While Amy Resnick and Jeri Lynn Cohen do a solid job of portraying two lesbians with varying degrees of antipathy toward men, it is Patrick Russell whose raging identity crisis as the angry and confused Jared lies at the core of Baker's play. Russell's performance is as powerful and impressive as his work last year in the Shotgun Players' world premiere of Care of Trees by E. Hunter Spreen. This is an actor to watch.
I'm always amazed at how cleverly set designers utilize the tiny performing space at the Aurora Theatre Company. The scenery and lighting designed by Kent Dorsey for this production give the auditorium its warmest and most nurturing feeling in recent years.
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