The title of “Flower Duet,” in its West Coast premiere at the Road Theatre on Magnolia, refers to Leo Delibes’ celebrated “Lakmé” air for soprano and mezzo.
It is being rehearsed by two Vermont-based frenemies, for a mutual friends’ wedding, though the musical component is at best a device. What playwright Maura Campbell is really writing about is the transient nature of marital fidelity and friendship.
As in the opening scene, where dry-edged Stephanie (Avery Clyde, atop her game) confesses to husband Max (a winning Adam Mondschein) that she’s almost strayed.
Stephanie has received overtures from lawyer Sandy (Patrick Joseph Rieger, multilayered as ever), the hotshot spouse of emotionally fragile Maddie (the invested Jessica Noboa), Stephanie’s former professional rival.
Factor in Max and Maddie’s easier chemistry, Stephanie and Sandy's reluctant attraction and Daisy (Kara Hume, as Sandy and Maddie’s troubled 4-year-old), and everything is set for a high-end women’s novel, if not a Lifetime TV movie.
Which, despite the noble efforts of director Jeffrey Wienckowski and a heroic ensemble, is what Campbell’s script most resembles. It’s competent in structure, with two simultaneous dual-location scenes that hearken back to playwright Alan Ayckbourn, and there’s some skill to the dialogue.
Yet it tells us nothing we haven't encountered before. The laughs are sporadically droll, the serious aspects not entirely convincing. David B. Marling makes shrewd choices for an admirable design scheme, but costumer Halei Parker’s decision to bedeck the cast gradually with flowers is curious.
Undemanding playgoers may well find the proficient performances ample reason to go, but this “Duet” doesn’t exactly sing.