It becomes apparent right off the bat in “You Say Tomato, I Say Shut-up” that the characters Annabelle and Jeff have exactly the same tastes in food, wine, movies, books and hating certain people. There is only one tiny flaw. They are the Ying and Yang when it comes to their relationship. If they were comic book super heroes, he would be “Captain Conciliatory” and she would be “She Who Must Be Obeyed”. After ten years of marriage, he is a hopeless romantic to which she replies, “Eh”. He really enjoys sex to which she replies, “Eh”. He searches for new ways to spice up their relationship to which she replies…I think you see a pattern here. Perhaps her true super hero moniker would be “Eh” Woman.
The setting is their favorite restaurant where they have scheduled a dinner together to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary. He has purchased his own gift as well as hers, made the dinner arrangements and patiently waits for her to arrive late. During the course of getting ready to order (I fear they never do actually get around on deciding what to eat) they relive their lives of marital combat. From their first meeting, to their five year “engagement”, through him popping the question, to marriage, family deaths, surgery, sex, childbirth, child rearing, to facebook it is a comic romp through all the pitfalls that befall everyone who longs for “happily ever after” but eventually settles for just “ever after”.
Eventually, they come to terms with their relationship and what it truly means to each of them. Just like the ancient Chinese symbol for duality, both opposites are a balanced mirror image of each other. As most couples eventually learn, it may not be a perfect marriage, it is what it is and that will just have to do for now. Besides, it avoids a custody battle on who would end up with “Stinky” the cat (not to mention, Erza, their son).
This is a very concise play with fast action dialog and some very funny physical comedy thrown in. While being a mere 75 minutes long, this is to the play’s advantage. Any longer would have dragged it out for no reason.
Kevin Bartini as Jeff and Gabrielle Mirabella as Annabelle are perfect as the two play’s antagonists. Their machine gun fire delivery and spontaneity are a joy to behold. This is two people on stage trying to keep an audience engaged for the entire 75 minutes without breaking into a sweat. They do an admirable job and are to be congratulated for a job well done.
Of special note also are the writers Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn who have concocted a masterpiece that is witty, pleasant, charming and true to life. I highly recommend that you put this one on your must see calendar and check it out. Be sure to take your spouse. At the very least, she will say, “Eh”.
You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up! will play the 14th Street Theatre through February 17. Tickets are on sale now at the PlayhouseSquare Ticket Office, via phone at 216-241-6000 or online at www.playhousesquare.org. Ticket prices range from $20.00 to $35.00. Group orders may be placed by calling 216-640-8600. For more information about You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up! visit www.tomatoplay.com.
About the Actors
GABRIELLE MIRABELLA (Annabelle) is a Florida native with a degree from the Manhattan School of Music. After studying in NYC for both theater and opera, Mirabella is busy cramming as many new and wonderful opportunities into her career as possible. Favorite regional theater credits include Velma in Hairspray and Laura in Swing.
KEVIN BARTINI (Jeff) Comedy fans the world over have taken notice of Kevin Bartini’s cutting edge, quick witted biting sense of humor. After ten years honing his skills in New York City, Kevin has become one of the brightest new stars on the comedy landscape. Currently Kevin can be seen warming up the audience at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart as well as Bunk on IFC. He has also worked for two seasons as an audience warm-up comic for Who Wants To Be a Millionaire. Movie fans and comedy fans may best know Kevin as the creator and star of The Movie Preview Review Podcast .
The Creative Team
ANNABELLE GURWITCH (Writer) first gained a wide comedic following during her years co-hosting “Dinner & a Movie” on TBS. Annabelle turned her experience of being canned by Woody Allen into the Off-Broadway play, touring show, book and documentary film Fired. Her film premiered on Showtime and has been screened everywhere from The South by Southwest Film Festival to The Department of Labor.
She’s been a regular commentator on NPR and a humor columnist for TheNationMagazine.com.Annabelle has appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, Fox and Friends, CNN, MSNBC, The CBS Early Show and Talk of The Nation on NPR. She’s been profiled in major print outlets including The Washington Post, Psychology Today, More, Chicago Tribune, Denver Post, InStyle, The New York Times, The JTA, USA Today and People.
Time magazine cited Annabelle in their cover story “10 Ideas that are Changing the World” for Fired! She has hosted television shows on ABC, VHI, Style and HBO. Acting credits include “Medium,” “Boston Legal,” “Seinfeld” and films Shaggy Dog, Melvin Goes to Dinner and Daddy Day Care. Her work Off-Broadway garnered her a place in The New York Times Top Ten Performances in Theatre, 2002.
Her essays have appeared in The L.A. Times, Child, The Jewish Journal, Glamour and two anthologies: Note to Self and Rejected! She hosts “WA$TED”! On The Planet Green Network. This is her second book and second marriage.
JEFF KAHN (Writer) is a writer/performer who began his career on MTV’s “The Ben Stiller Show.” A few years later, he won an Emmy award for writing on FOX’s “The Ben Stiller Show,” it was a moment so unexpected and shocking that he literally cried. Jeff has written on several other shows including, “Later with Greg Kinnear” “Austin Stories” and “Dilbert.”
His essays can be read online at FreshYarn.com and in his wife’s terrific and very funny book, Fired! He also has written and produced numerous television pilots, in particular, a spin-off of “All American Girl” starring Margaret Cho. He can be seen on HBO reruns of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Entourage” and “The Larry Sanders Show,” and has been seen in films including , Tropic Thunder, 40-Year-Old Virgin, and The Cable Guy. Online, Jeff is featured on the show, “The Writer’s Room.” This is his first book and first marriage.
The book was developed through sold-out performances at The Comedy Central Theatre and at Upright Citizens Brigade in Los Angeles, and made its New York premiere at The New York Comedy Festival 2009.
Annabelle and Jeff live in Los Angeles with their 13 year old son, Ezra, and their eighteen-year old cat, Stinky.
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