Reviewed by Amanda Halkiotis
Are you feeling guilty about secretly wanting to become a wife? Dreading the eventual ownership of it, unsure of how it will work on personal terms? Coping with your parents’ reaction, or finding that you have to discard your former identity to attain it? Erin Judge and Ailin Conant's The Meaning of Wife wants to resolve all these concerns and more, mixing variety-show comedy with compassionate, forward-thinking insight as they fight for the postmodern bride’s place in society.
Using terms such as “heteronormative,” “cognitive dissonance,” and “hegemony,” they share personal anecdotes and explain contemporary social norms while working to break down preexisting notions. Combined with their straight-woman/punch-line schtick, this play packages itself neatly into a lighthearted, audience-friendly format, never too preachy or too heavy. In one scene Erin recounts getting rejected by her former lesbian clique at her women’s college reunion for marrying a “gender-identified, gender-assigned heterosexual male.” Later on, all the while with an infectious grin on her face, Ailin explains the hoops necessary to jump through in order to be granted a temporary international civil partnership.
The red tape unrolls all over the stage here as Ailin struggles to validate her love for another woman to the interrogating government official played by Erin, creating an amusing exchange which takes place somewhere between the Newlywed Game and the Spanish Inquisition. No longer an extension of a man’s property, the term “wife” still has a long way to go in adapting with ever-changing labels and lifestyles. This play is a great step in that direction, especially if you miss your angry liberal sociology professor from college, or if you never had one and want to check into a cheap crash course on the subject.
According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.