Universality Adds Up to Appeal for "Duo" play

May 19, 2011 | by Howard Dukes

When Chicago-area playwright Bill C. Thomas showed Bob Breuler and Suzanne Petri "Duo: 1 Is 1; 2 Is Math," the play's universality struck a chord with the husband-and-wife director and actress.

"Duo," which Breuler directs Saturday and Sunday at the Box Factory for the Arts in St. Joseph with Petri playing opposite Roger Anderson, tells the story of a marriage from the time the couple meets through all of the ups and downs that couples face.

Petri says both married and unmarried people will be able to relate to many of the situations seen in "Duo."

"We thought that (all) people could relate to these two people," she says. "They meet and then they get married. They fight and have fun together. They have tragedies and health issues, and then they grow old together." The dialogue in "Duo," Petri says, sounds poetic and conversational.

"Besides being a great story, the language is very poetic and also very funny," she says. "Bill knows how people speak, so the language is clever at times, and sometimes it is very heartfelt. It takes you through the gamut of emotions."

"Duo" also features songs composed by Elizabeth Doyle. Both Petri and Breuler say Doyle's music is another one of the play's strong points.

"The music was totally inspired by the text," Petri says. "The characters speak back and forth and on top of each other, so it's like a duet all of the time."

Petri say that the lyricism in the dialogue affected the music that Doyle wrote for the play.

"When she read (the script), she said that the music came to her and it was like the music was in the script because the scenes were actually musical and she could see the music in her head," Petri says.

The play features the couple talking about their life together from the time they met until the current time.

"But then we go from telling the story to speaking to the audience," Petri says. "At one point, we show the audience (a picture of) our house and we talk back and forth."

For example, the couple recall how a room in the house came to be painted a certain color. Then, one of the characters asks the audience if they like the color, Petri says.

"So sometimes we have scenes where we talk to each other, and sometimes we talk to the audience," she says.

Petri says young couples and people in long-term relationships can learn something from "Duo."

"If they are young and have not been in a relationship to kind of get the feel of what it's like to meet and grow old together as a couple," she says. "For people who are already in a relationship, hopefully, they will look at each other and see how it all fits together in the larger picture."