Standing Still Standing, a new play by Melissa Leilani Larson, is not your typical romantic comedy. The couple is already married, but being tested by Ben's Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), which keeps him dozing rather than doting over his lovely wife of three years (Grace, played by the spirited Heidi Hathaway). He has withdrawn from working, from life, really, and this naturally wears on their relationship. Grace bears with her husband, spurring him along to consider a new home, a job opportunity, but Ben (played by the affable Will McAllister) spends more time in the world of dreams than working toward realizing the customary dreams of the newly married.
Marriage can often seem surreal, a constant state of unity and disunity, change and constancy, acceptance and impatience, yin and yang, male and female. A woman in the audience during the talk-back session commented that she has been married three years and still wakes up wondering about the stranger lying next to her. My wife and I celebrate our 22nd anniversary this week, and I remain profoundly mystified at who she is and what we are. This play has a disease throwing a wrench into the relationship, but really that just accelerated or compressed the reality of most marriages: matrimony itself is a chronic fatigue syndrome--especially when the kids arrive, but certainly not just because they do. Unlike the disease, though, marriage is glamorized. We end up with the ironic counterpoint of profound intimacies and subtle joys being intermingled with routine and good, old-fashioned bone-headed idiocy.