Three female perspectives of dating in your middle-ages are explored with touching humor in Kathryn Graf’s new play, “The Snake Can” currently running at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles. With a well rounded cast including Jane Kaczmarek and Gregory Harrison, the play focuses on the lives of three middle age women and friends, Meg (Sharon Sharth), Harriet (Jane Kaczmarek) and Nina (Diane Cary), who are at different stages of being single. The issues and lives of female best friends have made for good entertainment due to the real life issues that are often reflected on screen and stage. The “Golden Girls” made us laugh out loud about three women in the golden years of their life. “Sex and the City” dealt with women in their 30’s and 40’s in the prime of their lives. Today women in their middle ages seem to be the current focus, and are redefining a new era of women who are independent, dating, successful and enjoying the rewards of life. “Hot in Cleveland” is a perfect example of a television show that reflects the current time dealing with women who are going out on a limb in search of their happiness. Sometimes growing older doesn’t always mean growing wiser.
According to writer Kathryn Graf, “The Snake Can” refers to “the crazy toy snakes that boing out of a child’s toy can; at once wild and surprised, free and eager, and unhinged and terrified. This pretty much sums up my own feelings when I was widowed years ago. My play is about being (newly) single in the middle age. ” Graf was widowed and had to raise her two kids alone, which is reflected in the character of Harriet, played by Kazmarek. Her husband was a well known actor which helped shape the character of Nina, who is separated from her husband and trying to develop her own identity outside of her husband’s shadow.
In the play, Meg has been single for ten years and uses the site, Matchmaker.love, a clear reference to the popular match.com. She’s aware of how the rules of dating have changed as she informs, Nina and Harriet, that sometimes when she’s out on a date, she’d rather her dinner companion was a good novel instead of the boring date sitting across from her. Her friends think that Meg is pulled together and a catch, but we learn that finding a suitable man isn’t that easy for her. Harriet is widowed and raising her two kids but, has no clue about dating or enjoying a social life. She’s desperate to get out, and begins corresponding with James (James Lancaster) for two weeks without ever meeting him. She develops in her head a series of hilarious ideas of who James might be including a Mediterranean lover who will serenade her every night. They finally meet and as most people know who meet people online, often times the real person is completely different from the person we create in our heads. Finally, Nina is separated from her famous husband, Paul (Gregory Harrison) and is throwing herself into her paintings, literally. A la Farah Fawcett, Nina is using her entire naked body to create her newfound works of art. Running away from her real feelings, and escaping through her art seem to be her coping methods.
Director Steven Robman does a great job of telling Graf’s story in a series of vignettes, or scenes that fade in and out, but advance the storyline to it’s ultimate climax. The entire cast is effective and a pleasure to watch as they have developed distinctive characters that the audience can find humor in, while being touched by their imperfections. “The Snake Can” is a relevant story about a segment of the female population that is having it’s time reflected in current media today. The humor and sentiment are all present in the story and show us, that in the end true friends are the ones who embrace our imperfections and help guide us into the next page of our current chapter of life.
“The Snake Can” plays at the Odyssey Theatre: 2055 Sepulveda Blvd, in Los Angeles: January 19 – February 24 with performances Thursday – Saturday at 8 PM and a matinee on Sundays at 2 PM. Visit www.OdysseyTheatre.com