This is my review of Fifty Words by Michael Weller.
Very much in the vein of "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf" and Yasmina Reza's "The God of Carnage", also featuring a son with a hamster, this intense dialogue of a play is a portrayal of a marriage on the rocks.
Their son's first "sleepover" gives architect Adam and his wife Jan a rare evening alone together. This starts off in a bantering tone leading perhaps to a night of love, but there is a lack of communication and hints of darker problems from the outset and at times the bitternesss turns to violence. I found the frequent sudden shifts of mood or topic somewhat artificial and they weakened any sense I might have had of being moved by the plight of this couple who seem both self-destructive and ill-matched. The quickfire wit also prevented me from feeling very sorry for either of them, but it is very entertaining.
I concluded that this is really a set of observations on the nature of a variety of marriages, say where women play the game and turn a blind eye to their husbands' shortcomings and infidelities, or where women have children to please and keep their husbands and then hate their partners for this. Although Adam may be technically more "in the wrong", his wife Jan certainly comes across as more neurotic and manipulative. This may be the unintentional effect of a male writer identifying more with the man in the marriage. There are too many insightful comments to retain on first viewing of a performance; probably each person will come away with some different perceptions triggered by the play.