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Impossible Marriage

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IMPOSSIBLE MARRIAGE, Foreground Theatre Company, at the Athenaeum Theatre. Beth Henley's 1998 work is a southern chick flick of a play: sweet, warm, and full of quirky characters and challenging situations that wrap up neatly. A family gathers for the ill-advised wedding of a flighty daughter, Pandora, to an insecure writer twice her age. The wedding opens a Pandora's box of secrets, many of which center around a pregnant sister, Floral, who seethes with sugarcoated rage.

Henley has revisited this kind of family comedy-drama again and again since her Pulitzer-winning Crimes of the Heart. Though this play lacks that one's depth and resonance, it's an endearing work: Henley has a gift for the loaded turn of phrase, and director Allen Jeffrey Rein keeps the absurd plot bouncing along, never lingering too long on the melodrama. Ursula Berliner as Floral is particularly good at conveying the conflict between the expectations of others and the pull of one's own heart. Her light touch makes Floral's situation even more poignant, if not more believable.

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