Two American couples inching towards middle age—childless, annoying, erudite—see their love lives collide during a trip to Tanzania in Melanie Marnich’s semi-serious, semi-comedic look at marital ennui, receiving its Chicago debut at Victory Gardens. Jack and Bonnie have been through these parts before and have the traveler’s swagger to prove it. Debra and Mason are the academics living off grant money. So it’s the sweaty, earthy types vs. the buttoned-down eggheads, and in Tanzania, sweat and earth will always win out. Schematic but inoffensive, the plot doesn’t have much to say about infidelity other than to suggest certain attractions—namely, to people completely different from your spouse—are insurmountable. That may or may not be true, but in this context the point doesn’t have much resonance. More needling is the play’s depiction of Africa as some sort of wild exotica as seen through the eyes of white folks. “The Constant Gardener” was saddled with the same weirdly patronizing point of view. In truth, the play’s Africa setting is arbitrary; the story could easily take place in any other heat-saturated locale—Vegas, Mexico, New Orleans—where life is screwed up and off-kilter just enough to unleash a state of temporary, uninhibited recklessness. Despite the odds, the cast does a fine job inhabiting this silly world, including “Sex and the City’s” David Eigenberg, who plays Jack with a nice blend of low-level hostility and ‘atta-boy camaraderie. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.