Alexandra Gersten’s first play is an actors’ showpiece, appropriately enough for this actor turned playwright. The story of a marriage slowly eaten away by infidelity, “My Thing of Love” doesn’t shed a lot of new light on its well-traveled subjects. But it does put its three main characters in an ingenious variety of uncomfortable positions and holds them squirming there for our delectation. Infamous Commonwealth’s production cements the company’s reputation as a smart purveyor of contemporary work. As Jack, Craig Thompson presents a monster of self-absorption lurking behind a genial façade; willing to try spinning the truth even when caught in bed with his mistress, Thompson captures the unlikely charisma of this desperately unsatisfactory mate. Erica Peregrine’s Kelly ably puts forward the blend of vulnerability and calculation driving her to Jack. The central performance of the play, though, is Jennifer Mathews’ wronged wife Elly. Mathews conveys an acid resentment so corrosive to make one momentarily sympathetic to Jack, and then readily switches gears to reveal the devastation his actions have caused her. Ferocious and tender, resolute and broken, the rich tones of Mathews’ portrait push this production beyond the relatively easy laughs of Gersten’s situations. Neither the play nor the production is perfect; in particular, while Joseph Alaimo’s demented guidance counselor is undeniably hilarious, the patent implausibility of his scene with Elly jars in an otherwise carefully observed context. But the domestic strife of this family drama soon takes center stage again. (John Beer)
“My Thing of Love” plays at the Raven Theatre Complex, 6157 North Clark Street, (312)458-9780, through May 7.