A Perfect Couple – What remains for Amy

6 June 2016

The play A Perfect Couple by Brooke Berman focuses on themes of friendship, love, and betrayal among friends Amy, Isaac, and Emma. The title itself is an ironic representation of the plot where the relationship comes crashing down because of a secret that should or should not have been divulged. Amy, (Dana Eskelson) and Isaac (James Waterston) are engaged to be married after a long and rather rocky relationship as the couple dated precariously that lasted for fifteen years until decided to tie the knot.

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They decided to have an informal gathering at Isaac’s inherited house, just to talk about redefining their lives and enjoying their friendship. Amy, the bossy and assertive fiancé discovers a diary in the house, which used to belong to Isaac’s eccentric grandmother, a diary that changes their whole relationship with each other. When Amy discovered this she immediately berates Isaac for not having to tell her, though Isaac does not know of the diary’s existence.

Amy is then torn by two nagging issues – that his fiancé once loved Emma (Annie McNanamara), her long time college friend, and that Emma had visited Isaac in his upstate home. Naturally, after dating on and off for a long time, Amy felt furious as she shouted trying to vent out her frustration. She kept waving the diary in Isaac’s oblivious face, trying to search for an answer that was never going to come.

During the early parts of the play, Amy and Emma were talking about their college days, and how Amy met Isaac, how their careers blossomed leading to their desired lifestyles and eventually marriage.  During their conversation, as an audience, one could surmise that the three friends had a strong relationship. Emma was a witness between Amy and Isaac’s relation and she chose to say nothing that would otherwise destroy the couple. Indeed, the friends trusted each other and their relationship seemed unbreakable. Amy advises the single Emma to settle down and have a family rather than enjoying one-time relationships with random men. During the course of the play, Amy’s own thoughts and advice turns her paranoid and convinces herself that Emma chooses to remain single because Isaac.

Their conversation is on a mature scale even though it defies sense logic but their continued arguments force them to show their different personalities and principles in life. The common ground between their conversation and arguments is the friend’s belief in love. During the play’s finer points, Amy is devastated of Isaac and Emma’s secret relationship. She leave the house without any pretence and runs to their next-door neighbour’s house. Josh (Elan Moss-Bachrach) neighbor and recent college grad student, was there to comfort the suffering Amy. Leaning on Josh’s shoulder she poured her heart out, she was at a loss on what to do.

The one-act play was straightforward and direct to the point. Amy’s act is worth mentioning since Eskelson perfectly suits the role, finding easily to produce a comic and quirky character while maintaining her sensible and somewhat secretive character. Her voice was crisp, audible and understandable that could have been otherwise hard to determine her role in the plot. Her performance espoused what her role is, her plight despite the smiles and laughs she had among her closest friends.

During a point in the play where Emma was having a conversation with Amy about their happy college experiences, her voice was high- spirited and cheery as though she was relieving her college days right then and there. Her character is also flexible as presented during their argument with regard the diary. Her character, after an uncertain emotional status, becomes angry and frail, fed up of trying to mending and maintaining relationships after many years. In addition, her episode at Josh’s house, she became cool, as though she had already decided what to do. Already bordered by uncertainty, Amy’s fun and quirky character transforms into a distressed and enraged fiancé into a hopeless yet purposeful woman in the end.

There is already a hint of emotional imbalance that can be derived from her rocky dating life with Isaac. But when Isaac had proposed to her, she was finally convinced that it was already the real thing and gave her enough reason to believe that Isaac wanted the marriage to. She had affirmed herself of their relationship and thus have settled for happiness that she thought would not be destroyed. But the diary changed everything and her emotional stability, already hanging by a thread, comes crashing down. In the end, she breaks down emotionally, and settles for the consolation of their next door neighbour. Amy intensely showed most of five stages of psychological grief – shock, anger, negotiation, depression, and acceptance.

Ms. Eskelson’s acting was precise and she was clearly in character as she portrayed her character’s suffering from emotional grief.  At first, she experienced natural shock from the diary’s contents. But this did not cause her denial, instead she sought the truth from Isaac. When he did not give an answer, she was forced to take the diary seriously even though it mean that Isaac’s stepmother was either lying or twisting the truth. She relied too much on the diary, but this is justified because of her paranoia, coming from her assurances that her relationship with Isaac was going to be perfect because of their engagement.

When Amy knew, she needed someone to support her since her two friends lied to their face. She had no choice but to express her feelings to Josh. Naturally, this level of betrayal unhinges her and goes into depression, hurt by the two people she trusted most. Finally she accepts her situation. In the end, she decides to break up with Isaac and leave his house.

When Emma asked how theirI thoroughly enjoyed the whole performance for the issues that revolved around the story can certainly be found in normal relationships: the love triangle among the three friends, issues on betraying friendships, heartbreaks and a nagging uncertainty of the future in the end. Also, the diary also played an essential role for the whole plot. From the unproven entries of Isaac’s grandmother, claiming that Isaac really loved Emma, is a modern day interpretation of Pandora’s box. It is a secret that hovers on exposing truth or concealing it, as one consequence would be the destruction of their unique friendship, and, for Amy and Isaac, their marriage that took 15 years in the making.

On the other hand, the diary’s concealment would forever torture the three friends as Amy lives in a blind happiness, unknown to the secret relationship Emma and Isaac had. It was indeed a test on their friendship. The performance moved me and inspired me to think about what has the greater importance, whether friendship or love.

The play also empathizes with audiences on how to confront or overcome unexpected problems in a middle of a relationship and friendship.  I sympathized with Amy’s situation. Her dilemma was beyond that of Isaac and Emma. If Isaac had told Amy about their brief experience at his house, she would have not been upset that much. She would have been better off knowing the truth rather than living knowing nothing. But they hid the truth whether or not it was intentional, but as a good friend it would have better for Amy. The truth is people get hurt by telling the truth but the greatest hurt comes from friends who decide it is better to lie rather than betraying them with the truth.

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