Citadel’s “Sirens” Sends A Comical Call

Familiarity can breed discontent.

And that what’s troubling Sam and Rose Abrams in “Sirens,” now in its Midwest premiere at Citadel Theatre in Lake Forest.

They’re looking for a cruise vacation to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Songwriter Sam has also been looking to recapture the passion of his youth and write another hit song, like the one he composed for Rose during their youthful, lustful courtship. This has led to some Facebook adventures, which, he assures his wife, went nowhere.

This all-too-real couple is played by Citadel co-founders Scott and Ellen Phelps, who are also husband and wife. Fantasy foils for the characters’ mid-life marriage are Callie Johnson, the siren of the title, who also plays a travel agent and waitress, and Matt Pratt, cast as Richard Miller, Rose’s some-time beau from her college days.

This 80-minute play, the hit of the 2010 Humana Festival of New American Plays, is short on angst and long on laughs.

The funniest moments occur on the cruise when Sam, lured by the siren’s song, jumps overboard and washes up on her rocks.  Slender blond Callie Johnson looks perfectly the part in her silver gown with a thigh-high slit, and she’s also a splendid comedian, charmingly off-hand about the shipwrecks caused by her seductive song.

Most delightfully, she is obsessed with a digital game, which she found on the shore and regards as a gift from the Greek gods.

Laughs of recognition greet the familiar arguments between Sam and Rose, and her meeting in a restaurant with Richard, who in her eyes has never aged, is painfully funny.

Director Will Casey mines the tender heart of this comedy, which affirms lifelong love. Just right for Valentine’s Day and beyond.

“Sirens” by Deborah Zoe Laufer, with original music by Suede, runs through March 4 at Citadel Theatre, at 300 S. Waukegan Rd. in Lake Forest. For tickets and additional information, visit citadeltheatre.com or call 847-735-8554.