Romeo & Juliet and Other Duets

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Through March 29. Tickets are $15-$35; call 826-5750 or visit www.themarsh.org.
Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 21st St.), S.F.

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Longtime theatrical partners Deborah Gwinn and Jim Cave put their own quirky, captivating spin on Ionesco's The Chairs and Shakespeare's famous star-crossed lovers. With little more than a rack of clothes, a collection of chairs, and some stirring music by the likes of George Gershwin, Enrico Toselli, and Nino Rota, the two actors use these tales as a springboard to explore the relationships of couples old and young, caught in the moment and yet still looking to get through their day-to-day lives. There are times in this 90-minute excursion when the approach is more mildly amusing than deeply felt. Without any sense of the devastating loss that underpins Ionesco's original story, the make-believe between Gwinn and Cave's middle-aged couple seems like idle chatter rather than a conscious attempt to avoid dealing with their deep despair. And the section when Romeo and Juliet leave each other and then kill themselves feels oddly perfunctory. But the scenes where Romeo and Juliet first get into bed together, and their final moments after death, take us straight from the silly to the sublime.

 
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