Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

February 22, 2013

You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up!

CityStage, Springfield, MA
through February 24, 2013
by R.E. Smith

Despite the confrontational title, “You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up!” will not ruin anyone’s date night by causing a heated debate on the car ride home. Married couples in the audience quickly connect with the two characters on stage as either being just like themselves or their spouses, or both, but no one is asked to take sides.

Comedians/writers Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn invite the audience to eavesdrop on the occasion of their 10th anniversary, as characters based on themselves, examine debate, and relive pivotal moments and personality differences. The dialogue is actually reflective, constructive and often tender. This is not a vehement “he said-she said” rant.

The situations they recount are familiar to any married or dating couple, especially those whose own love is a case of “opposites attract”. In fact, the point of the show seems to be that opposites, in reality, “compliment”. The topics are current, ranging from the foibles of Facebook, to modern child rearing methods.  Using flashbacks, monologues and precise physical comedy, the authors expose many of the details that make their love “complicated”.

Kevin Bartini, originally from far Western Massachusetts, is a stand up comic who really does know how to act. Not surprisingly, he has crackerjack timing and an endearing delivery. Gabrielle Mirabella has the tougher chore of making the prickly, self-absorbed Annabelle sympathetic while she plays straight man to Jeff. It may be hard to understand what Jeff sees in her, but one cannot really dislike her. They clearly enjoy performing opposite each other and there is a genuine sense of affection and respect on display.

“You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up!” is a charming, intimate evening of “heads nodding in recognition” entertainment.