Do you remember how in love you were when you first married or moved in with your partner? Well, can you remember the first time you fell out of love, looking at that person you thought you knew and couldn’t live with out and asking yourself, “How the hell did we get here and who are you anyway?” Well, clearly playwright and solo actor Martin Dockery and his partner, Vanessa Quesnelle do, too.
Theatre 99 is hosting Martin Dockery (The Bike Trip, Wanderlust) again this year, but this time he’s not just in a solo show but in a “two-person misadventure in domestic bliss” called The Pit, a show with no set or props, just two supremely talented actors in their pajamas, whipping through the highs and lows of their relationship and dealing in fantasy lovers and would-be-lovers, making us laugh and then cringe in recognition of just how damned hard it is to love somebody for the long haul. Oh, it was a laugh fest… until it wasn’t. When the tide turns in this cleverly written and beautifully executed piece, the laughter weakens as we recognize we are perhaps witnessing the decimation of a relationship and maybe, to be polite, we should turn away.
But just like you know you shouldn’t be listening to your neighbors having a marital spat, you listen and maybe cover your mouth to stifle a laugh, because you know this is going to pass. You are pulling for this couple because you are pulling for your own battered relationship.
Dockery is a funny man. No doubt he’s been compared to Jim Carey thanks to his long, lean body and his ability to physically embody characters in the most bizarre ways, curling in on himself moments before he ends up in the fetal position bemoaning the idea of being forced to get up and go work in a place that sucks his soul. But don’t let the funny fool you. When he needs to be tender and real, when he needs to rescue his marriage, he is all in.
Vanessa Quesnelle plays both his wife (who is never named which is quite apt as she seriously represents us all) and his fantasy woman, Miss Swiss. A lesser actor might have not been able to compete with Dockery’s physical antics and ridiculous voices, but Quesnelle not only holds her own, she anchors the piece in many ways. It is her quiet simplicity of action that leads us to recognition. It is the long silent sigh following his missed opportunity at salvaging a moment by being in the moment that we respond to and remember.
Martin Dockery will also be presenting a one-man show at Spoleto called Suprise, a true story about discovering his father had children outside of his marriage, but you only have two more opportunities to see The Pit. You should do it. It’s an hour that might just salvage something broken at home.
THE PIT (A TWO PERSON MISADVENTURE IN DOMESTIC BLISS)
$16, Sunday, June 1 @5p and Wednesday, June 4 @7p
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City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.