In Craig Wright's intimate and emotionally volatile Orange Flower Water, Beth (Kerry Cahill) is disarmed by a hard truth in the midst of a fight with husband Brad (Will Schneider), who has caught her having an affair with a family acquaintance. She realizes, almost like watching a car crash in slow motion, that she's going through the steps of breaking up, and suddenly, being caught makes her feel guilty, tawdry and trapped. But by definition, forbidden fruit never loses its appeal.
Beth and David (Garrett Prejean) are bored with their respective family lives. In spite of living in a very small community in which their children play on the same soccer team and they patronize each other's family businesses, they've carried on an increasingly involved affair. The play begins at the point of no return, where either crippling or leaving their marriages is inevitable.
Wright's play explores how people stumble forward, ripping apart one family while imagining a better one. He writes for TV (Lost, Six Feet Under), and it shows in his sharp dialogue and the immediacy of the drama. There's nothing subtle or indirect about the story. Under Mark Routhier's direction, the cast does a great job conjuring the emotional intensity of people frustrated with relationships that over time have become tedious and cold. Kerry deftly handles Beth's fragility and anger. Veronica Russell is funny as the quirkily placid and thoughtful Cathy. And Garrett Prejean handles David's sensitive and selfish sides. It's a mature exploration of why neither marriage nor divorce is simple and adults make hard choices. — Will Coviello
Thru May 14
Orange Flower Water
8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday
The Elm Theatre, 220 Julia St., 218-0055; www.elmtheatre.org