REVIEW: Lively ‘Marriage,’ a match made at The Hilberry

Reviewed by Samantha White, The Oakland Press

Click HERE to read the review on the The Oakland Press website.

Check out the Marriage photo album join the Facebook event!

Posted: Thursday, March 07, 2013

Once upon a time there lived a Russian matchmaker named Fiokla, played by standout actress Sarah Hawkins Moan in Marriage, by Nikolai Gogol playing at Wayne State’s Hilberry Theatre.

Sarah Hawkins Moan (Fiokla), Brent Griffith (Podkoliosin)Photo: Kevin Replinger

Sarah Hawkins Moan (Fiokla), Brent Griffith (Podkoliosin)
Photo: Kevin Replinger

It’s hard not to watch her even when she is simply eating an apple and not saying a word.

The drama of this season’s “The Bachelor” on ABC has nothing on the antics of Marriage. Sean and Tierra’s relationship woes don’t compare to Podkoliosin and Agafya — the play’s two tentative lovebirds.

FYI:“Marriage” is playing in repertory now through April 6. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thursdays, March 7 and 21; 8 p.m. Fridays, March 8 and 22; 8 p.m. Saturdays, March 9 and 30; and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, April 6, at 4743 Cass Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $12 to $30. Visit or call 313-577-2972.

Fiokla’s mission is to find love for the extremely hesitant bachelor and civil servant Podkoliosin. Her choice for him is the sweet Agafya Tikhonovna.

Although classical, this isn’t your typical romantic comedy. In fact, there is no happily ever after in sight as the play’s main character sheepishly courts Agafya through a series of awkward and silly moments.

Fiokla also presents three other bachelors to Agafya as potential husbands — Poach’Tegg, played by the versatile Chris Call, Anuchkin, played by the humorous Miles Boucher, and Zhevakin, played by the wonderful Topher Payne.

The show’s director, James Thomas, has created a lively and animated production complete with a large pink cake that serves as the backdrop.

When the show begins, Podkoliosin, played by Brent Griffith, his assistant Stepan, played by Alec Barbour, and his best friend, Kochkariev, played by Ty Mitchell, sing along with Bobby Darin to “Dream Lover.” It’s a great way to start the show — it engaged the audience, igniting contagious handclapping and a sing-along on opening weekend.

Griffith has Matthew Broderick’s sweetness and charm, and a Stan Laurel goofiness that make him a joy to watch. His timing and energy never wavered — quite impressive when one has to play a nervous, sweating mess of a man for two hours.

Annie Keris is great as Agafya. She has a range that is funny, smart, timid and delicate — the perfect ingénue.

Joshua Blake Rippy plays Agafya’s very, very tall aunt, Arina. Watching him prance around in a corset and a black braided wig is reason enough to go see this show.

“Marriage” is the lighter slice of the Hilberry season, which includes William Shakespeare’s dramatically heavy “Othello.”

Samantha White is a Detroit-based freelance writer. Contact her at

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