Angie (Megan Hart) and Mark (Jorge Cordova) meet one day when he’s out jogging in the rain and she’s sitting on a sidewalk bench crying. After sharing cigarettes and a bit of conversation, Mark asks if she wants to go spend the afternoon at a local bar. At first reluctant, Angie agrees, as long as she doesn’t have to talk about what made her upset. So begins their relationship, and soon the two of them are married, living a happy, idyllic life. Angie is a doctor, content to support Mark as he pursues his dreams of becoming a novelist.
However, this life comes to a crashing stop when Angie discovers that she’s unexpectedly pregnant. Angie is fine with the pregnancy, but Mark flips out—he isn’t ready for the responsibility of fatherhood. He asks her repeatedly, “Weren’t you taking the pill?” Arguments and accusations ensue. Eventually Mark calms down and apologizes, but the damage has been done—both of them realize that their relationship has instantly changed.
Mark starts worrying about what he’s going to do regarding his career and finances. He was fine with Angie supporting him before, but he can’t live like that if he’s going to be a father. He talks to Scott (Ronan Babbitt), his boss as well as his close friend at his part-time job, and his co-worker Molly (Michelle David) to try to get the full-time position that was offered to him just weeks ago that he passed over in order to devote time to writing his latest novel. Of course, the position has gone to someone else.
Meanwhile, Angie receives an invitation to a charity event from an old friend, Kelly (Deanna Sidoti). Angie attends the event, and the two of them meet awkwardly. We learn that Kelly was the reason why Angie had been crying and sitting in the rain in the opening scene of the play—the two of them had been close, but before Kelly had left the country for a few months, she’d told Angie that she wanted nothing more to do with her. The audience isn’t quite sure what had happened between these two women, but it’s clear that Kelly has had a change of heart and is considering letting Angie back into her life, albeit in small doses.
As Angie’s pregnancy continues, her marriage to Mark is tested. Although he tries to change his life to prepare for the baby, he seems to fail at every turn. He’s unable to get a job, and no publisher will buy his second novel. Even simple things, like trying to put together the baby’s crib, turn into a disaster. He decides he needs a thousand dollars to make multiple photocopies of his manuscript, which he’s then going to sell on the subway. Angie thinks he’s crazy and challenges him to sell five copies.
Luckily their relationship has some good days. Mark throws her a baby shower and invites both Scott and Kelly. It’s at this party that their two friends meet for the first time, and Scott, known for being a womanizer with a new girlfriend every week, asks Kelly out on a date. Much to everyone’s surprise, including Scott’s, he falls in love with Kelly. Kelly unexpectedly falls for Scott as well, and we witness their relationship progress as we observe Mark and Angie struggle with their marriage.
Then the audience discovers that the pregnancy isn’t the only complication for Angie and Mark’s relationship—it turns out that Kelly and Angie were once very much in love, and Kelly not only ended a friendship with Angie, she ended a love affair. Even though Kelly’s now in love with Scott, when the two women start spending time together again, she begins to question whether breaking up with Angie was the right thing to do. And Angie, dealing with all the difficulties with Scott, wonders whether she should stay in her marriage or pursue a life with Kelly.
40 Weeks is a comedic drama about love, marriage, parenthood, and what happens when the life someone thinks they’re going to have changes dramatically. The relationships are real and dynamic, and the story speaks especially well to so many young New Yorkers—such as writers, actors, or artists—who push responsibilities aside to pursue their creative dreams, only to be suddenly faced with new obligations. The characters are true to life, and the actors’ performances are excellent—especially Ronan Babbitt, whose talent should escalate his career to Broadway, television, or movies. The set consists of only one couch and a kitchen table with four chairs, but that is all that is needed—between the performers and the sound design, the audience knows exactly where the characters are and what’s happening in the story. This is writer Michael Henry Harris’s first play, and not only did he create a compelling drama that people can relate to, but there are many wonderfully humorous moments and sharp lines of dialogue. I look forward to his next creation.
40 Weeks is an intriguing play, especially for people in their twenties and thirties, who themselves are choosing careers, starting and ending relationships, and exploring what life has to offer—and seeing if they’re ready for its challenges.
by Michael Henry Harris
Directed by Danton Stone
InViolet Repertory Theater Company
83 East 4th Street
Through March 12, 2011