NJT’s ‘Sirens’ is seductively funny

Leah Berry and Bobby Miller star in ‘Sirens’ at the New Jewish Theatre. Photo: John Lamb

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

What’s a nice, middle-class Jewish couple to do after 25 years of marriage when the original flames of passion have cooled down and the once romantic husband is allowing his eyes to rove? That in a nutshell is the basis of the story in “Sirens,” a new play by Deborah Zoe Laufer, which opened last week at the New Jewish Theatre. This light-hearted, entertaining work, directed by Tom Martin, boasts terrific performances by its four-person cast, with a hats-off to the production’s design team for creating a memorable set and some terrific costumes.

Rose Adele Abrams (Kari Ely) and her husband of a quarter-century, Sam (Bobby Miller), who swept her off her feet by writing a hugely successful love song for her, find that their once-passionate marriage has lost its pizzazz. The still-attractive Rose, played with energy and superb timing by Ely, is concerned that Sam is letting his eyes glom onto younger women and has even been reaching out to them on Internet social networking websites. Rose talks the reluctant Sam into a silver anniversary cruise of the Greek Isles, something that the distracted and burned-out Sam obviously loathes.

The back-and-forth banter between Rose and Sam recalls the on-stage, comic chemistry of Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca in “Your Show of Shows” and other classic couples such as Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara as well as Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows from “The Honeymooners.”

Rose is tormented not only by Sam’s Facebook distractions with younger women, but also by the fact that he has tried to find an old flame from his high school days. To get back at Sam, Rose dredges up fond memories of a promising date with Richard Miller, and torments Sam with wondering aloud how her life might have been more exciting if she had ended up with Richard. The Richard Miller character does make an appearance in the play with an amusingly over-the-top portrayal by John Kinney.


Although the 90-minute play is performed without an intermission, fast-moving action, nimble direction and engaging actors hold the audience’s attention throughout. Leah Berry does versatile work in three very different portrayals-as the overly eager cruise-planner, as a genuine “Siren” who lures Sam onto her rocky isle and later as an impatient waitress at a fancy New York restaurant.

Sam’s interactions with Berry’s Siren contain some of the play’s funniest lines as she occupies the part with credibility and gusto.

An outstanding prop is a two-person paddleboat that moves about the stage like it is really floating on water. Teresa Doggett’s costume designs enhance the power and seductiveness of the scenes, especially the flowing and authentic looking Siren outfit and Rose’s sexy red dress that she wears when trying to drive Sam crazy with jealousy.

“Sirens” is a fine way to wile away a couple of hours as we root for Rose and Sam to come to terms with their maturity and changed emotions, and to rediscover a solid basis for celebrating 25 years of being together.


WHEN: Through March 6: Performances at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Saturdays; and 2 p.m. Sundays

where: The New Jewish Theatre’s Marvin & Harlene Wohl Studio Theater, in the Jewish Community Center’s Arts & Education Building, 2 Millstone Campus Drive

How much: $32-$36

More info: 314-442-3283 or