The Meaning of Wife
nytheatre.com review by Nicole Higgins
August 21, 2009
If you have any friends or family who still don't quite get what the issues are surrounding gay marriage, The Meaning of Wife is the perfect piece to take them to. They'll be introduced to a little queer culture and hopefully begin to see the issue as a question of equal rights, and you'll be gently entertained by the charming Erin Judge and Ailin Conant, both of whom wrote and perform the show. It's not all educational, and it's not all inside jokes. They do sometimes get the audience involved, so if you're a little shy, skip the front row, and if not, feel free to holla. They'll riff off of you as quick as you please.
Judge and Conant have put together a neat show about two friends growing up, getting hitched, and facing cultural expectations and snobbery of all kinds. They are utterly believable as best friends who happen to find partners (one same sex and one opposite sex) and enter into a role they never imagined for themselves in their hedonistic college days, that of a wife.
What I most like about this show is that it clearly illustrates that becoming a wife (no matter to whom) is really just happenstance, a part of life. It's what sometimes occurs post-union in society that is awkward, weird and inappropriate—and not only to the same sex couple. This show treats the absurdities of marriage and relationships equally. Let us hope that the New York State Senate will do the same when the vote comes up (as I hope it will) this fall.
This is a very timely show. If it doesn't quite answer all the questions it raises regarding visa(s), partnerships, unions and Federal vs. State policy regarding same sex marriage, at least it is broaching the subject and hopefully starting that necessary dialogue we have to have with those who don't understand what the big deal is. These two performers are very engaging and unafraid of inviting the audience into their lives. I'm not sure if this is a totally finished piece, and I'd like to see/ hear more from Ailin Conant's point of view regarding same sex marriage. Specifically, I want to know how she and her partner are dealing with being separated because the U.S. government doesn't recognize their status and will not issue a visa.