Couples theater. Is this some new trending trope? Greg Woods and Susan Riley Stevens, a real-life married couple, are over at the Walnut Street Theater lacerating each other as George and Martha, a fictitious married couple in Edward Albee’s masterwork, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? And soon Rob McClure and his real-life wife, Maggie Lakis will be playing the fictitious couple in Mrs. Doubtfire. at the Academy of Music. And now, Scott Greer and Jennifer Childs, another real-life married couple, are playing the fictitious couple, Michael and Ronnie, in Bruce Graham’s newest play, The Flatlanders.
The Flatlanders is an old-fashioned sit-com, allowing Greer and Childs to play familiar funny roles: she’s the straight man (are we still allowed to say that?) and he provides the laughs. They are, as Philly audiences already know, extremely good at being funny.
The set-up is the familiar locked-room in the middle of a blizzard in the Poconos. But this isn’t an Agatha Christie murder mystery, but a romance. We learn that on their way to an inn where they have planned to finally get married after fourteen years as a couple, their car slides off the road, hits a tree and they find an empty house and break into it for shelter. In the process of discovering some of the naughty secrets of the couple whose house it is, they reveal secrets—none of them naughty— about themselves.
There is a moral to the story, as there always is in a sit-com: get off your screens and talk to each other. So couples theater turns out to be couples therapy after all.
[1812 Productions at Plays & Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey St] January 25-February 18, 2024; 1812productions.org/the-flatlanders