Married couples star in comedy about noxious spouses
For actors, roles offer chance for discovery
The waves in the slim woman’s hair bounce easily as she leans in, sharing a tinkling laugh with her husband. The creases around his eyes turn up as he joins in, leaning to meet her halfway.
After 20 years of marriage, Framingham residents Kim and Doug McClure still seem infatuated with each other. But the McClures, and two other married couples from the area, must act hatefully toward their spouses in a production of “The Smell of the Kill,’’ opening tomorrow night at the Amazing Things Arts Center in downtown Framingham.
The show, developed by writer Michele Lowe over a decade from a 10-minute skit into a full-length play, calls for situational comedy as three couples at a dinner party dig deep into their dysfunctional married lives, said director Russell Greene.
The three husbands are college buddies who regularly dine together, while the wives have been thrown together by happenstance, Greene said.
But at this particular dinner party, the three wives find themselves alone as the husbands venture off to visit the host’s frozen-meat locker. When the men become stuck on the wrong side of the walk-in freezer’s door, the women must decide whether they would be better off without them.
“All three couples’ lives are at a crossroads,’’ Greene said. “It’s kind of like ‘Desperate Housewives.’ The wives must come to a decision they need to make. The boys get themselves trapped, and the wives have to decide whether to let them out.’’
Greene, a Waltham resident, said he aimed to recruit the three local couples as cast members - five of the six being acclaimed veterans of community theater productions - when he conceptualized the show in the spring.
He said the actors - the McClures are joined by Arlington residents Sabrina and Jason Fenton, and Kristen Dattoli and Bill Stambaugh of Belmont - have a knack for bringing the show’s playful side to life, aided by their longtime friendships.
“They fit the roles perfectly, and they all like and respect each other, since they’re all friends with each other,’’ Greene said. “Their history comes out with the lines given, and there’s a natural sense of camaraderie that came with the casting, so we were very lucky.’’
The McClures, who have two daughters and have lived in Framingham for 16 years, were high school sweethearts; “Kill’’ is their first live show together since their high school’s production of “The Stage Door.’’
For this show, Kim said, she was hesitant have Doug play opposite her, due to the loutish nature of his character in the script.
“I was nervous at first because Doug is a very sweet guy, and I love him a lot, but the husbands in this play are all completely dysfunctional, so I thought it was going to feel very weird,’’ she said. “But I think there was a particular rehearsal where Doug stepped it up so much, and it was fun to see him take control of character and act like a jerk. It was entertaining.’’
Doug, who has not acted since high school, said he found it amusing to portray a brutish husband, although he had to learn how to draw the line between his stage role and his own personality.
“If I were ever acting that way toward her in real life, we’d be really mad at each other,’’ he said. “I have to work on letting that out and not tempering our relationship.’’
The Fentons, who eloped 10 months ago after a whirlwind romance, said their characters complement their sense of getting to know each other.
“There are moments where I see her get a certain look or tone on stage, and I see her disappear into somebody else,’’ Jason said. “I can see when she’s performing, and I like seeing that distinction someone else might not see.’’
Dattoli and Stambaugh, who were married in June, met on stage nine years ago, and have performed together a number of times.
Dattoli said she has noticed a feeling of companionship and mutual support, between the spouses and among all six friends, that unifies the actors.
“After working with everybody, it feels like we’re all married to our best friends,’’ she said. “We’re learning more about each other every day as married couples do, but what better way to learn more about each other than performing in an artistic way? It’s pretty cool.’’
Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.