Sometimes just the slightest change in one's attitude or reaction can affect the outcome of a situation. French playwright Yasmina Reza shows how this idea can work in her intriguing "Life x 3," as translated by Christopher Hampton and staged by Marin Theatre Company.
Running about an hour and a half without intermission, the play is set in the Paris apartment of a married couple, Henri (Dan Hiatt) and Sonia (Delia MacDougall). A problem arises when Henri's supervisor, Hubert (Warren David Keith), and his wife, Ines (Julia Brothers), arrive for dinner a day early. That's awkward enough, but Henri and Sonia's 6-year-old son (unseen offstage) keeps crying and distracting the adults. Even worse, Hubert tells Henri, an astrophysicist, that someone else may have beaten Henri to the punch in publishing a paper about a topic Henri has been working on for three years.
In the first version of this evening, no one copes very well. There are subtle and overt squabbles and insults that reveal deep cracks in both marriages as well as the relationship between Henri and Hubert. The second scene is somewhat tamer except that Hubert makes a pass at Sonia. The third scene has a much a greater degree of rational behavior, especially by Henri and Sonia.
Director Amy Glazer and the talented cast skillfully differentiate the changes in each scene, keeping the audience thinking and often laughing. Eric Sinkkonen's set design seems a bit spartan for a couple as well educated as Henri and Sonia (she's a lawyer by training and an accountant by profession), but Maggie Whitaker's costumes, Kurt Landisman's lighting and Jake Rodriguez's sound (except for the noise between scenes) are effective.
All four actors create believable characters as they navigate the changing circumstances between each scene. One gets a sense of each personality but sees how behavior can change, thanks to their accomplished acting.
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