‘Sirens,’ a comedic tale of keeping love alive, opens at the Hipp


The comedy “Sirens” features, from left, Filipe Valle Costa as Richard, Nell Page as Rose Abrams, Michael Crider as Sam Abrams, and Lauren Nordvig as the Siren beginning Friday at the Hippodrome Theatre.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 10:33 a.m.

There might not seem to be a strong connection between Homer, bard of lore, and Hugh Grant, actor of romantic comedy. In fact, few writers would think of trying to spin a tale that took elements from both of those diverse worlds and adding in a bit of social networking to boot.

Facts

‘Sirens’

What: Comedic tale of keeping love alive, with a mythological twist.
When: Opens Friday with preview performance at 8 p.m. today; showtimes are 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 5 and 8:30 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 5
Where: Hippodrome Theatre, 25 SE Second Place
Tickets: $27-$32, $20 for seniors and military personnel, $12 students; $12 and $15 for tonight’s preview.
Special event: “Sirens” writer Deborah Zoe Laufer will lead a talkback session after tonight’s preview performance at 8.

Deborah Zoe Laufer has done just that, however, with “Sirens,” a play that is smart, funny, layered and full of literary allusions, and which opens at the Hippodrome Theatre on Friday.

Laufer will be in attendance at the show Friday, and will hold a talkback session after tonight’s preview performance.

“Sirens” begins by turning the romantic-comedy genre on its head. Instead of two young lovers destined to meet, the play follows a couple — Sam and Rose Abrams — who have been married for 25 years. The spark is gone from their love and from Sam’s creative muse as a songwriter.

When his wife finds that he’s been using Facebook to connect with young women and old flames from his youth, Sam’s marriage hits the rocks. He chases his siren — the one that will bring him the next great song. She chases hers — the man she could have married all those years ago. And, of course, Sam’s siren turns out to be an actual siren, the kind that sings men to shipwreck.

“Laufer gives us this extremely contemporary love story,” says director Lauren Caldwell. “It involves a middle-aged couple, but the layering and the social networking make it modern. No matter where you are in your life, there’s something to grab onto and see yourself in this story.”

Caldwell says the depth of the writing attracted her to the play.

“There’s wit in her writing that’s refreshing,” she says. “It’s not just funny — there is real wit. It’s a lot of fun to work on.”

Much of that wit comes through the character of the Siren, played by Lauren Nordvig. Through Laufer’s words and Nordvig’s performance, the Siren becomes less a trope of ancient literature and more a chatty, flippant character who clearly takes great joy in using her irresistible song to lure men to their deaths.

“She’s quirky,” Nordvig says. “She’s alone for thousands of years on this rock, so she’s a little batty.”

Underneath the wit, however, is a story of love lost and regained between two people who have already lived a lifetime together, as well as an interesting comparison between the spark of love and that of artistic creativity.

“Creativity and romance come from the same place — being in the moment,” says Michael Crider, who plays Sam. “Life, art, creativity, love, passion — it’s all what you make of it.”

Adding to the chemistry between Crider and Nell Page, who plays his wife, Rose, is the fact that the two performed at the Hippodrome together decades ago.

“I’ve known Mike for 25 years,” Page says. She says that their relationship, plus her recent break from acting to focus on “spiritual work,” have allowed her to approach the role with new vigor.

“It’s been three years since I’ve been at the Hipp,” she says. “Being on my own particular journey of being away from the theater, I realized that this is home. I’ve relaxed into that, and there’s an appreciation for that. It’s like coming home.”

Perhaps then, for Page, art is imitating life. After all, the play is about exactly that — coming home and feeling comfortable there.

As Caldwell says, “As human beings we go through so many changes. The struggle, the commitment, the trust it takes to hang in there with someone as they go through something, that’s what the play is about.”

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