Peggy Sue Dunigan

The Girl in the Frame

By - Jun 4th, 2008 02:52 pm
Get a daily rundown of the top stories on Urban Milwaukee

What would life be like with the perfect partner, romance, or relationship? Exploring all these possibilities, Jeremy Desmon’s 2003 play The Girl in the Frame closes In Tandem Theatre’s season. This tribute to the romantic ideal focuses on the seldom-realized fatal discrepancies to these overrated dreams.

The Girl in the Frame intersperses musical numbers throughout the two acts while centering on the faltering relationship between Alex and Laney, two 30-somethings who have been engaged for four long years. Alex, who seemingly unemployed waits for executive-on-overdrive Laney to return every evening, begins to imagine another person in their home, a beautiful girl in one of those stock images from the picture frame he gives Laney as a gift on their anniversary. He dreams about her while once again Laney catches a flight overseas to straighten out a business deal gone awry.

To Alex’s surprise, a very real girl sashays through his bathroom door that evening. This is the girl in a white dress, whom he names Evelyn, that lived mid-twirl inside the picture frame and begins to fulfill his every need, including cooking chicken Florentine and chocolate mousse for dinner. When Laney returns home from her European business trip she discovers Alex and Evelyn, this figment of her fiancés imagination, replacing her in the bedroom. So she conjures her own fantasy fireman, Tomas. For a short time, the four live in unimaginable bliss, everyone’s dream a reality. But the dreams begin to fade over time, which allows Laney and Alex to discover a fitting end to their dueling dilemmas through humor and love.

An entertaining evening full of many delightful moments, The Girl in the Frame fills the stage with touches of truth. What woman would refuse to imagine or flirt with the idea of a sensuous sculpted fireman who cleans, cooks and carries your favorite flowers to your arms every evening? The play’s musical score occasionally obscures the story, but the twisted duet between Tomas and Evelyn, “What Would You Do,” describes the traumas of remaining ever perfect with precise timing.

Courtney Jones as Evelyn and Travis A. Knight as Tomas, both newcomers to In Tandem, capture these faultless ideals and the essence of their roles. Knight charges the stage, incredibly versatile, visually enhancing the capable sexy fireman that rescues Laney from routine as he fans the flame of her every desire. Alison Mary Forbes as Laney and Simon Jon Proven as Alex both revel in developing their fantasy relationships, although Alex’s character in the script could be more developed. But together the four create chemistry on stage, giving the play’s premise a credibility the audience embraces even if the set could use a sophisticated tweaking to brighten the scenes. Anne Von Deusen deserves special applause as the piano accompanist throughout the performance.

When the enjoyment and laughter of the evening recedes, the production grapples with several questions regarding the expectations of romance and relationships, especially over long time spans. The disillusioned Laney admits in one scene, “Sometimes you outgrow dreams. You want to be loved not in spite of your flaws, but because of them.” Perhaps these very flaws give the everyday depth and meaning as The Girl in the Frame relates to the audience, “If life was perfect and simple, it wouldn’t be worth getting right.” VS

In Tandem Theatre’s The Girl in the Frame continues through June 15 at Tenth Street Theatre. Their Bottom’s Up Beer Tasting fundraising event is Friday, June 20. For information call 414-271-1371 or visit In Tandem online.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us