`Eden Court’ is both realistic and satisfying

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
August 15, 1986

Some people are born losers. And some marry them. “Eden Court” offers an example of each.

Schroeder Duncan is a working-class man who lives in a small trailer with his Elvis-crazed wife, Bonnie.   He throws alarm clocks out the door when they ring in the morning; she fixes him breakfasts of untoasted bread with frozen butter. He works at a job he hates; she tries to make their miserable home as livable as possible.

You get the feeling that the two won’t be able to live like this much longer, and Bonnie does, too. On Duncan’s 30th birthday, she plans a full day of surprises, but her surly husband doesn’t want any part of it. And when the two get into a big fight, she storms out of the house and he goes out with a crude friend.

The play’s concept is not original, but the Huron Theater Ensemble does a good job with what they’ve got. Anyone who has lived in a motor home for more than a week can appreciate the claustrophobic feel of the set. The shabby furniture, noisy neighbors and barking dog add to the authenticity.

Lance Edwards and Celeste Januszewski are realistic as the Duncans. Januszewski, especially, shows wonderful comedic timing. And while the plot may not sound much like a comedy, it is a funny play. When the spritely Januszewski models sexy lingerie to surprise Edwards, she ruins the effect by leaving her cotton underwear on underneath.

Edwards plays the type of man who can be outsmarted by a bold mouse who sneaks cheese out of the traps he sets for it. He dreams of becoming a self-made man one day, but he’s also a pessimist. On his birthday, he’s depressed  because he thinks he has no more time to make it in the world.

The play runs smoothly when the two leads are both on stage. Januszewski’s wide-eyed Bonnie and Edwards’ rebel-without-a-cause Schroeder are an interesting, if not romantic, couple. But the second act tends to drag when Edward and his beer-guzzling buddy, Carl, are left alone.

Robert G. Anderson plays Carl as an obnoxious big mouth whose main desire is to become a telephone repairman because he thinks he’ll be able to seduce lonely housewives.

The play gets too serious at this point, with Edwards pontificating about the meaning of life.

There are no complicated plot twists or surprise endings in “Eden Court,”  but it’s a good, satisfying play about a slice of life that many of us hope we’ll never have to live. 

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