By Mary Damiano
Side Effects by Michael Weller, a raw, visceral look at a marriage at the mercy of the wife’s mental illness, comes to stunning life at Mosaic Theatre in Plantation.
Hugh Metz (Jim Ballard) comes from old money, the scion of a well-to-do family. He has set his sights on a political career, but his wife, Lindy, (Deborah L. Sherman) a free-spirited, bipolar teacher who hates taking her meds, is a liability to his budding aspirations.
Lindy and Hugh are from different worlds. He lived in hers’ for a while earlier in their marriage, but her innate free-spirited nature makes it difficult for her to live in his world now. She loves to remind him of the old days, when they lived on their own terms and didn’t have to answer to his family or political power brokers.
Their combustible marriage is examined over the course of a few months, as they journey from disturbing disquiet to all-out explosion.
Ballard and Sherman have chemistry to spare, and are totally believable as couple struggling to balance their passion with their Midwestern, upper class life. Whether they are sharing a sweet memory, battling through an argument pummeling each other with sex, they are immersive and fascinating to watch.
Ballard does a fine job illustrating Hugh’s conflict between his head and heart, especially when his stoic face dissolves into lust. He’s perfect as a husband who is as much on the edge as his wife, only he tries to hide it while she flaunts it.
Sherman delivers a searing portrayal of a woman eager to feel and experience both the pleasure and pain in her life to the extreme, disappearing into Lindy’s skin. The role commands Sherman to perform a wild emotional range, to transform from seductive desperation to perky optimism in a moment, and she delivers at every turn. Each gesture has meaning — the way she tucks her hair up under her hat after leveling Hugh with a cutting barb, how she twists her limbs seductively during a languorous moment, how her hand shakes when she’s stressed. She has the elastic face of a comedian, and uses it to perfection. This is a star-making, edge-of-your-seat, not-to-be-missed performance.
Douglass Grinn’s sleek, austere scenic design of Hugh and Lindy’s living room, Dan Gelbmann’s moody lighting and Matt Corey’s eerie sound design all punctuate the characters and the emotions perfectly.
Side Effects is a powerful production of a hard-hitting play, and an outstanding kickoff to Mosaic’s new season.
WPBT uVU video interview interview with Sherman and Ballard click here
Side Effects runs through Oct. 9 at Mosaic Theatre inside American Heritage, 12200 West Broward Blvd., Building 3000, Plantation. Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15-$39.50. Call (954) 57-STAGE or (954) 577-8243 or visit www.mosaictheatre.com