Sunday, July 29, 2001

Playwright takes both sides in battle of sexes

By Jackie Demaline
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Playwright Carter Lewis will deliver a one-two comedy punch on Cincinnati stages in the spring.

        His Men on the Take is the winner of the Rosenthal New Play Prize and will be performed at Playhouse in the Park Feb. 9-March 10. The production will dovetail with the regional premiere of his Women Who Steal, filling the TBA slot at Ensemble Theatre, March 13-31.

        While not written as companion pieces, both comedies comment on the “Men Are from Mars/Women Are from Venus” emotional differences between the genders, as Mr. Lewis explores American marriage and spoofs our obsessively self-helping and self-actualizing culture.

        Ensemble Theatre artistic director D. Lynn Meyers has been chasing the rights to Women for more than a year. She fell in love with it because “it looks at heartbreak with a human touch.”

        What's most exciting, she says, is the pairing of a world premiere and regional premiere that play off each other, offering a “point-counterpoint about the same issues from male and female perspectives.” Both shows feature a trio of performers (two men and a woman in Men and two women and a man in Women).

        This is the second time Mr. Lewis, a 1973 Otterbein graduate, has won the Rosenthal. His previous win was for An Asian Jockey in Our Midst (1996). He says it's great to be back at the Playhouse. “I've wanted to come back ever since” his first win.

        Mr. Lewis teaches playwriting at Washington University in St. Louis. He doesn't see Men/Women as a departure from previous work. “Usually I take something I'm trying to figure out and treat it with a bit of humor.”

        What's interesting him in both these plays are marriage, misunderstanding, infidelity, and how, “when you put a label on it, it seems such a huge betrayal. It seems irreparable. But is it? These are good, flawed people.

        “I like 'em. They're struggling, man.”


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