South Park Theatre's A Love Affair | Theater | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

South Park Theatre's A Love Affair

A romantic comedy looks back on four decades of marriage.

Relationships are a work in progress. That sentiment is at the heart of A Love Affair, a romantic comedy by former television writer Jerry Mayer that follows Jimmy and Alice Diamond across four decades of marriage.

The story opens after a string of bad luck and bad investments forces the middle-aged couple, played in this South Park Theatre production by Bob Scott and Cindy Swanson, to sell their beloved home. As they clean out the attic, they begin reminiscing, and soon the audience meets the couple as young newlyweds (Noah Zamamiri and Erin McAuley).

The play alternates between the present and the past, and the two versions of Jimmy and Alice occasionally interact — first with the older pair giving guidance to their younger selves, and ultimately the younger duo dispensing the wisdom. Both sides offer shrewd counsel, but whether Jimmy and Alice will take their own good advice is never quite so straightforward.

Rounding out the cast is Genie Evanko, who portrays six diverse characters who shape the couple's life together over the years. From the femme fatale who almost breaks up the marriage to a gynecologist who diagnoses Alice with a "normal" case of menopause, Evanko handles each of her roles with aplomb.

Adrienne Fischer's scenic design makes effective use of the limited stage, and between acts, the small crew did a terrific job converting the set from a run-down attic to the almighty bedroom. This might not be a Broadway-scale production, but the attention to detail is just as meticulous. Likewise, Melissa Hill Grande's direction keeps the laughs moving at a quick pace, but encourages the audience to ponder the little moments that make a marriage.

Alice and Jimmy's sprightly dialogue mixes touching insights about relationships with crass commentary in which partner intends to amuse, and sometimes wound, the other. Though the older couple shares more on-stage chemistry than the younger pair, this works in the play's favor, dovetailing with the theme that while age might not bring security, it does foster devotion. The end result is a story that's sweet but never saccharine.

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