By Marcy Stamper
The notion that people may grow restless once the newness of marriage wears off is examined and skewered in the saucy comedy The Seven Year Itch.
The spring production by the Methow Valley Theater, opening Friday (March 21), transports us to New York City in the 1950s, when men often stayed behind in the steamy humidity of the city while their wives and families decamped for the beach, when psychoanalysis still seemed a novelty, and when some social morés were beginning to fracture.
The adult comedy follows Richard Sherman (Rob Brooks), a publisher of cheap paperbacks, over the course of a few sultry days. Richard’s wife, Helen (Jessica Dietz da Costa), and their children are away in the country, leaving Richard on his own in their apartment, where he has modest plans to indulge himself with food and drink.
But when a potted plant crashes onto his terrace, he meets the upstairs neighbor, called only “The Girl” (Kira Cramer). The two begin a flirtation—at times tentative, at times bold and often awkward—sharing champagne, piano duets and amusingly vacuous chit-chat.
Meanwhile, Helen is tempted by a man she meets in the country, played by Nick Bosco. The play alternates between reality and fantasy and winds through dream sequences as Richard equivocates and ponders his options. Although it deals with some risqué subjects, the play includes two characters who reveal the inner voice and conscience of both Richard and The Girl.
“The subject is our human condition and desires, and how confusing it can be going through the stages of our lives,” said Shelley Block, who co-directs the play with Jody Love.
(The 1955 movie, starring Marilyn Monroe as The Girl, included the now-classic scene in which Monroe’s dress billowed around her, lifted by air from a subway vent.)
The Methow Valley Theater production brings together veterans of the stage and showcases some new local talents among its 12 cast members. Cramer has been acting since she was a young girl and Brooks has appeared in other recent productions here.
Block and Love, both first-time directors, build on their expertise in other facets of theater. Block, who has a professional background in stage design, has worked with her crew to create an authentic set, complete with all the trappings of an upper-middle-class post-War New York apartment—Asian-influenced upholstery, a well-stocked bar, a baby grand and potted orchids.
Love, who has done choreography for many local productions and also appeared as an actor, has helped create a fluid production through well-paced movements.
Fifties’ standards by Frank Sinatra and Herbie Mann help create the mood. “This has been a long-term love, since I went to college and listened to jazz and went to the theater,” said Block. The actors all contributed their talents for the set and costumes, she said.
The Seven Year Itch runs through March 29 at the Methow Valley Community Center in Twisp. Shows are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., with one Thursday-night performance on March 27 and a Sunday matinee on March 23 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15, with front-row seats available for $25.