The Rousuck Review: "Saving Myself for Steve Martin"
“Single Women Actively Seeking Sex.” Those words appear on a sign on stage at the Strand Theater’s production of “Saving Myself for Steve Martin.”
“SWASS,” the awkward acronym on the sign, is a support group. Over the next 80 minutes or so, we hear from the group’s newest member. Eve is a 45-year-old, just-divorced mother of an adolescent daughter.
Ann V. Wixon, author of "Saving Myself for Steve Martin," structures this Baltimore Playwrights Festivalselection as a series of monthly group meetings – from September through May. It’s a structure that’s rather formulaic and, at times, repetitive.
At each meeting, Eve – the sole character in the play – gives a report on her progress, or regress, in her quest for hook-ups. She has frequent, furious rants against the husband who dumped her. But she has sweet reminiscences of her first husband, who died two years after they were married. These suggest that this single woman might be seeking more than just sex.
Karin Rosnizeck plays Eve as enthusiastic verging on hyper and with a strong, self-deprecating sense of humor. At the first meeting, Eve admits she’s been out of the dating pool so long, she doesn’t know how to get back in.
If anyone in the support group has any advice, we don’t find out. Eve, and the script, barely acknowledge the group’s presence. Forging boldly ahead on her own, Eve goes on a blind date with a guy who turns out to be more like Prince Alarming than Prince Charming.
Her date’s criticism of her appearance brings up a casting and costume problem. Director Miriam Bazensky has found a very warm, sympathetic – and attractive -- actress in Karin Rosnizeck. No matter how much Eve complains about her looks or rails against “20-year-olds running around in their low-rise jeans,” Rosnizeck looks fabulous in her low-rise jeans. At the very least, she needs a frumpier costume.
In another respect, the production looks just fine. “Saving Myself for Steve Martin” is being performed at Church & Company, a former church in Hampden. With the audience seated on an array of mismatched chairs, the venue feels like the setting for a support group.
There are several passages that showcase playwright Wixon’s writing skill. Eve’s account of Christmas with her first husband is endearing, and a romantic scene gone wrong, near the end of the play, is genuinely funny.
The title, by the way, shows up at the group’s March meeting. Fed up with her dating experiences, Eve decides she’ll wait for someone “intelligent,” “funny,” “cultured,” “attractive” and “so far out of my reach, I will never meet him,” that is, Steve Martin. The idea – and the title – a bit feel forced.
“Saving Myself for Steve Martin” isn’t the only one-woman show about a single mother returning to the dating world. A few seasons back, Olney Theatre Center staged “Bad Dates,” by Theresa Rebeck, best known for the TV series “Smash.” Rebeck, however, incorporated a full-fledged plot into her play.
But the Baltimore Playwrights Festival isn’t just a showcase for polished work, it’s also a forum to identify talent. At this point, “Saving Myself for Steve Martin”may be more a collection of stories – closer to journal entries – than a fully realized play. But the script contains some sharp writing and character development, and that’s a promising start.