Union Trouble


The marriage plot has sustained literature for centuries, but according to recent census reports, marriages have declined over the past several decades. Perhaps reflecting this trend, Rachel Dickstein’s The Betrothed concerns itself with the non-marriage plot. In this anthology theater piece—adaptations of the stories “The Treatment of Bibi Haldar” by Jhumpa Lahiri, “The Betrothed” by Anton Chekhov, and “The Dybbuk” by S. Ansky—three women very nearly wed.

Ironically, The Betrothed contains many elements of successful nuptials, if not necessarily successful theater. Handsome bridegrooms and lovely brides dot the stage, the latter encased in princess-cut dresses. If champagne toasts and a buffet are not served, live music and dancing are. All very pretty, yet somewhat airless. Under Dickstein’s direction, each gently ironic story receives a satisfactory staging, but none relates to the others. Nor do they step outside their precise dialogue and flighty choreography to bother engaging with the audience. And gift bags—not a one!

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