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updated: 8/31/2012 3:58 PM

Pheasant Run's 'Sirens' a satisfying romantic comedy

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  • Songwriter Sam Abrams (Bill Bannon) is marooned on a magical Mediterranean island by a mythological Siren (Angela Sprinkle) in Fox Valley Repertory's production of Deborah Zoe Laufer's romantic comedy "Sirens."

      Songwriter Sam Abrams (Bill Bannon) is marooned on a magical Mediterranean island by a mythological Siren (Angela Sprinkle) in Fox Valley Repertory's production of Deborah Zoe Laufer's romantic comedy "Sirens."
    courtesy of Trademan Photography

  • Songwriter Sam Abrams (Bill Bannon) is marooned on a magical Mediterranean island by a mythological Siren (Angela Sprinkle) in Fox Valley Repertory's production of Deborah Zoe Laufer's romantic comedy "Sirens."

      Songwriter Sam Abrams (Bill Bannon) is marooned on a magical Mediterranean island by a mythological Siren (Angela Sprinkle) in Fox Valley Repertory's production of Deborah Zoe Laufer's romantic comedy "Sirens."
    courtesy of Trademan Photography

  • Songwriter Sam Abrams (Bill Bannon) tries to convince his wife, Rose Adelle (Liz Zweifler), to hear his newly composed song in front of a waitress (Angela Sprinkle) and Rose's former college flame, Richard Miller (Samuel Taylor), in Fox Valley Repertory's production of Deborah Zoe Laufer's romantic comedy "Sirens."

      Songwriter Sam Abrams (Bill Bannon) tries to convince his wife, Rose Adelle (Liz Zweifler), to hear his newly composed song in front of a waitress (Angela Sprinkle) and Rose's former college flame, Richard Miller (Samuel Taylor), in Fox Valley Repertory's production of Deborah Zoe Laufer's romantic comedy "Sirens."
    courtesy of Trademan Photography

 
By Scott Morgan
smorgan@dailyherald.com

Couples seeking a great "date-night" show should flock to "Sirens," Deborah Zoe Laufer's 2010 romantic comedy now receiving a confident production by Fox Valley Repertory at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles. And you might want to get your seats now, especially if the constant opening-night audience laughter translates to a positive word-of-mouth demand for tickets.

Part of what makes "Sirens" so enjoyable is Laufer's deft intermingling of a couple's modern-day marriage troubles alongside an askew take on Greek mythology. This odd mishmash of subject matter in "Sirens" offers some amusing flights of fancy amid a couple's arguments and resentments that should sound familiar to anyone who has entered into marriage (or anyone who has to endure someone else complaining about a spouse).

"Sirens" centers around the Abramses, an empty-nester couple from the New York tri-state area who go on a Mediterranean cruise to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. But there's trouble ahead, since assertive businesswoman wife Rose Adelle (Liz Zweifler) is resentful at the faded passion in her marriage to Sam (Bill Bannon), a largely one-hit-wonder songwriter who has coasted along in life from the royalties provided by his early success.

Things get worse when Rose confronts Sam about his online dalliances with younger women via Facebook. She's particularly perturbed over Sam's attempts to reconnect with a high school sweetheart as a way to remember a long-forgotten song that he's certain will become another Top 40 hit.

Right when the Abramses' marriage hits a breaking point, Sam magically ends up on a desolate Greek island inhabited by an impatient and diffident Siren (Angela Sprinkle). Rather than appearing as an eternally ethereal temptress, this Siren comes off more like a sulky and impatient modern-day teenager. Bored with her never-ending role of singing to steer men's ships to destruction, this Siren has become recently addicted to a hand-held electronic Solitaire device that washed ashore.

Facing an almost certain death with the Siren, Sam becomes determined to reunite with his wife. But she's already set to move on, as seen in a hilariously uncomfortable restaurant date with her Italian-American former college boyfriend, the smarmy widower Richard Miller (Samuel Taylor).

Company artistic director John Gawlick has done a good job staging and casting "Sirens," especially putting together an ensemble with great comic timing. The production elements are also strong, particularly Yousif Mohamed's shimmery blue sky and sea lighting designs.

As the bald, befuddled and frequently defensive Sam, Bannon carries on very well, especially when having to endure the mostly justified nagging of Zweifler's spitfire Rosee.

In addition to the amusingly petulant Siren, Sprinkle also shines in several other perky roles she takes on in the play, ranging from a pleasantly impatient waitress to a new-on-the-job travel agent. And though Taylor doesn't get much to do in Act I, he definitely satisfies in Act II as the on-the-prowl widower Richard Miller.

Though there's only one true Greek Siren in the show, Laufer's pluralized title hints at the fact that life is filled with potentially dangerous tempters who can lead people astray. And though the happy conclusion that Laufer gives "Sirens" doesn't entirely feel earned (given the many clashing personality traits the Abramses face), she does hammer home the important fact that relationships over time need to alter and change in order to grow. On that level, "Sirens" definitely satisfies with its outlook and its recognizably familiar couples humor.

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