Not Neil Simon!

Don't let the title fool you—My Married Friends is no schlocky Neil Simon comedy about kooky-but-loving couples. Masterfully written by Steven Salinaro and expertly directed by Todd Kulczyk, Married is not only fraught with poignant observations about relationships (platonic and sexual), but it also has a great sense of humor—with just enough pain thrown in to make you misty.

Michael (Jack Millis) dreams of being an advertising giant. Unfortunately, his social conscience often keeps him from earning the big dinero. His business partner, Alan (Robert Samuels), is a gung-ho advertising maniac whose passion for his craft captivates both Michael and Alan's new wife, Mindy (Kristina Leach). The three are inseparable—until loyalties and loves shift.

That's the setup. But this is no situation comedy. This play is about impressions, judgments, and re-defining your opinions of yourself and those you love. And it's the expression of this sometimes brutal honesty that makes these characters worth getting to know. And it's delivered by a superb cast—especially Leach.

The coolest part of all is that this isn't a love triangle; Michael is gay. Refreshingly, Millis skillfully avoids the stereotypical, flamboyant-homo portrayal. His Michael is flesh and blood with all the necessary dimensions that entails.

And that's why Married is so good. Even with all the ironic commentary and painful zingers, you never once doubt that these erratic individuals are people—probably the people sitting next to you.

My Married Friends at the Empire Theatre, 200 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 547-4688. Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m. Through Feb. 5. $10-$12.

 
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