David and Katie are a picture of wedded bliss… if your definition of marriage is, say, Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder sticking together for fifteen more years, getting tattoos of each other’s names and painfully removing them after every fight. David and Katie have invited you and a room full of other complete strangers to witness their re-marriage ceremony (“the second happiest day of their life”), because frankly, no one else would go. Their family and friends have already witnessed this unsuitable union once. They’ve learned their lesson, even if David and Katie have not.
That they haven’t learned their lesson is clear from the couple’s first scene together, an awkward and drawn-out dance with both Katie and David in body-hugging black underwear obliviously in love as they make half-attempts at lifts and twirls. The couple have elected a new approach to their re-wedding ceremony. They’ve collected a list of new age practices this time around to solidify their partnership. Of course, nothing goes off quite as planned. There’s a ritual of accepting praise and criticism from your partner as s/he caresses your face with a feather (in the instance of praise) or pokes you with a stick (in the instance of criticism). David and Katie struggle admirably to praise each other, but criticism comes too easily. Then, there’s the Balinese butterfly release which, given that it involves a living, breathing animal, goes horribly wrong.
Both David Carl and Katie Hartman are veterans of the comedy stage. We reviewed Carl’s Gary Busey’s One-Man Hamlet, a highlight of last year’s Fringe, and Hartman is part of the sketch comedy duo Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting. Carl and Hartman wrote the script and music for this production, which is directed by Michole Biancosino.
Part of what made Gary Busey’s One-Man Hamlet so exciting was the level of discomfort the audience felt at watching one clearly incapable man work very hard to put together an extraordinary, albeit unusual and darkly comic, feat of theater. Here, in David and Katie Get Re-Married, we’re seeing something similar: two people who are clearly not meant for the task they’ve taken upon themselves (marriage) struggle (and slip) to piece together something special. It’s an inspired concept for a comedy show that celebrates persistence in spite of terribly obvious shortcomings.
David and Katie, however, is not so tight a production as Hamlet, and the laughs of discomfort in the audience were equally at David and Katie’s comedic efforts to renew their love as at the show’s strangely slow pacing. There were times where David and Katie seemed to lose track of the humor and the scene became unnecessarily long without the joke hitting its mark. There was also a third character whose unusual backstory could have been worked into the show in a more fruitful way. My favorite moments of the show were the original songs, which reflected a wide range of styles and topics (both humorous and emotional) and propelled the story elegantly. I look forward to seeing how David and Katie continue to develop this production– Here’s to knowing their future is brighter than that of their stage personas!