Oct. 14 2009 12:00 AM

Williamstons Ache a hauntingly real take on married life

Actors Aral Gribble and Jasmine Rivera open the play “An Infinite Ache,” now showing at Williamston Theatre, with a spectacular replica of that universal, alien discomfort of the first-date experience.

The two then fast forward, in a single hour, through the entirety of an unbroken string of moments that constitute a life-long marital relationship — for better, for worse.

Gribble is Charles and Rivera is Hope. Together they are “Every-couple” that struggles, endures and maintains emotional intimacy through disenchantment, disappointment and despair.

The details of their trauma are incidental, alike and dissimilar to the everyday, ordinary jolts any couple might experience over an extended timeline. What sets them apart is their vulnerability and their persistence to overcome those jolts, allow the relationship to survive and remain in love despite themselves and difficult circumstances.

Charles knows he is in love from the moment he sees Hope, yet, thinking of himself as nothing special, he tries to talk her out of a relationship with him.

Hope is skeptical, but she suspends judgment to give this relationship a chance to unfold.

David Schulner’s script requires continuous, subtle growth in the characters, as this couple ages, tires of one another and then rediscovers each other once they find themselves more clearly.

Gribble and Rivera each demonstrate considerable shape-shifting abilities, as they slow down with age until, at plays end, they are the consummate elderly couple shuffling across the stage.

And then there is a wonderfully ironic ending to this play that brings past, present and future, colliding in a single moment in time.

Director Tony Caselli has designed a simple set, featuring a single, four-post marriage bed that is constant throughout the time changes of the play, symbolizing a till-death-do-us-part bond.

“An Infinite Ache” resonates with the experiences of many long-haul married couples, and it evokes an empathic identification that is haunting and almost too familiar.

‘An Infinite Ache’

By David Schulner
Through Nov. 8 8 p.m. Thursday & Friday 3 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Saturday 2 p.m. Sunday $10-$24 Williamston Theatre, 122 S.Putnam St., Williamston (517) 655-7469 www.williamstontheatre.com