Husband & Life | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Husband & Life

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HUSBAND & LIFE, at Live Bait Theater. This two-person exercise in compassionate characterization charts a marriage from first date to first burial. Writer-performers Wayne Graham and Rebekah Walendzak take a predictable course, telling tired jokes about lifted toilet seats as well as addressing the usual life passages, but intriguing details make the show worth the hour. Under Bob Ladewig's direction, these affectionate sketches are refreshingly free of irony and sarcasm during scenes of gentle self-mockery yet exhibit enough control to make the sentimental moments equally true. If some scenes parade the actors' accents rather than further the story, overall this ambitious showcase honors its two seasoned performers, who adeptly depict bad dates, nosy neighbors, control-freak colleagues, the lovers' parents, and one very wise daughter.

But the core pleasure is the couple: Graham gives clumsy, caring Randall an earthy integrity while Walendzak's Emily is rooted and sensible, clearly the tonic Randall needs. At the altar, when he gets carried away and implores her to marry after his death, she expertly soothes him. As much ground as Husband & Life covers, it never seems rushed, yet you sense how short a life together can be.

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