Pat and Mary have been married for five years. The fire is starting to wane and those once cute and quirky habits have become annoyances. Littered Diet Coke cans and laundry arguments are driving the couple to the brink, but Pat and Mary are determined to be the exception and fight for their marriage instead of joining the majority in divorce.
And fight they will, nightly at the Manitou Art Theatre from March 18 through 21, in their original comedy How Pat and Mary Saved Their Marriage.
Actors Pat Shay and Mary Theresa Archbold are a real-life married couple outside the performance, which is based around the duo seeking the advice of couples such as Antony and Cleopatra, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, and a few less destructive ones. Though she and Shay say they have a happy marriage and get along very well, both readily admit their relationship isn't perfect.
"One of the major themes in the show is how, in marriage, little things become big things," says Archbold. "The Diet Coke cans, for example, are one of our 'things' in both the show and at home."
So ultimately, this interpretation of a frustrated couple is not much of an interpretation at all, since many of the scenes trace back to the actors' lives — minus the part about meeting dead people.
"It's not like we're the great veterans offering brilliant insights about marriage or anything," Shay says. "It's more like, 'Here are some things we run into. Do you run into that, too?'"
The couple's nearly 40 years of combined acting experience enlivens all the shows they perform, but they say their experience in relationships contributed most to this script.
Shay and Archbold wrote and are the sole performers in the play, which was sparked by a night of improv and developed over nearly a two-year period. This is the couple's second performance at the MAT, having staged Jazz Hand: Tales of a One Armed Woman, in November 2008.