Entries in Jeff Daniels (1)

Sunday
Apr282013

The Great Siberian Love Affair at In Tandem’s Apartment 3A

In Tandem Theatre closes their season with a reprise production of Jeff Daniels’ delightful Apartment 3A.  The playwright’s comedy centers on a recently separated Public Television development director that has given up on life named Annie Wilson. Yes, Annie admits she has lost her belief in Big Bird, Catholics, God, life and love while in the middle of her television station’s annual pledge drive.

Tiffany Vance gives Annie a hefty dose of bi-polar personality that adds to her recreations of how Siberian Polar Bears mate, a feat shown in a popular documentary necessary to replay for her pledge drive, while still making Annie’s character believable. Vance allows Annie's moods to swing precariously when accepting meals with the two men in her life, a co-worker Elliot, the charming and convincing Doug Jarecki, or her across the hall neighbor, Donald, a debonair and inquisitive Simon Jon Provan.

In between having lunch and dinner with these two men, and during the course of this incredibly funny performance, Annie discusses the existence of eggs, God, miracles, public television and Siberian love affairs, while determining how these concerns make a difference in her life. Rerunning the Polar Bear documentary to raise the necessary production funds sparks primal sexuality in each character, including a fine cameo by the apartment manager named Dahl, played by Gene Schuldt.

While the performance definitely speaks to some sexually explicit situations with care, if the audience delves deeper into these situations the script makes complete sense. Why? Because the essence of scientific research defines the culmination of sexual mating, whether in Siberian Polar Bears or human beings, as the release of an important chemical (oxytocin) that sparks life, a bonding element necessary for human existence at the microorganism and mammalian level. Without this chemical, humans, and life, can be doomed, personally and communally.

This physical act is a miracle of sorts, similar to the miracle referred to in the play, when two people spark soul to soul, and transfer the life-giving chemical to each other. And as Elliot insists, this means a prayer to God was answered and becomes a God-given gift. What is the miracle and does God have anything to do with this or does this somehow prove His existence? Director Jane Flieller mines each of these philosophical questions while deftly handling the growling sex with aplomb and laugh out loud moments. And if these thoughts are too complicated to ponder, merely enjoy the humor found inside Annie's inviting and supernatural apartment on the third floor. 

One can only say there’s a spiritual and surreal complexity to Apartment 3A that needs to be appreciated along with the witty dialogue and then danced to. In the course of the two plus hour evening, Annie ultimately realizes, “you haven’t truly lived life until you waltz with your one true love.” Or as Elliott believes, “you can make a heaven on earth… with someone who thinks the world begins and end with you.” This could be the love Annie hopes to discover when repairing her own broken world. In Tandem presents Annie’s dilemmas with clever insight and the audience leaves Tenth Street Theatre smiling with satisfaction. Wondering about what Siberian Love Affairs could appear in their own lives.  

In Tandem Theatre presents Jeff Daniels’ Apartment 3A at the Tenth Street Theatre through May 19. For information or tickets, please call 414.271.1371 or click the In Tandem link to the left.    by Peggy Sue Dunigan