Do husbands ever listen? Do wives ever stop talking?

These are just two of the perennial marriage questions that will be broached during the comedic performance “Spousal Deafness — and Other Bones of Contention,” which finishes up a short run at the Old Port Playhouse in Portland this weekend.

The play is written and performed by husband-and-wife duo Susan Poulin and Gordon Carlisle of South Berwick and directed by David Kaye from the University of New Hampshire.

“It’s really about the little things in a relationship that drive you crazy,” Poulin said. “It’s so fun to see people in the audience jabbing each other in the arm” when particular jokes hit home.

“It’s remarkable how the gender stuff is so universal,” Carlisle added. “The whole play is about compromise and the resistance to compromise.”

Whether it’s the pile of dirty socks that gets your ire up or the tube of toothpaste that isn’t squeezed properly and throws you into a tizzy, the performance is sure to offer something to which all married couples can relate. The play even cooks up a few fictional products that many of us might wish really existed.

These include the “Listen Up” clandestine recording device used to prove that you really did tell your husband about the mother-in-law’s visit this weekend. Or the “Shut It Bob” alarm that sounds whenever those dresser drawers are left to tilt open at precarious angles.

Each night’s show starts at 8 p.m. and runs about an hour and 15 minutes with an intermission.

Since the performance debuted in 1998, Poulin said she’s gained insights into male-female relationships after doing the show numerous times at theaters throughout New England.

“We have different priorities about where we want to put our energies,” Poulin said. “If the house isn’t clean, he doesn’t notice it, but for me, it’s crippling. But I don’t notice if the lawn isn’t mowed, because that’s his job.”

For his part, Carlisle said each time they perform the piece, it’s like a mini-dose of therapy.

“The play forces us to come together at the end,” Carlisle said. “It’s a like a weird date where we perform in front of everyone and work out our stuff.”

Hopefully, audience members will take away a similar sense of perspective on the tug of war that is marriage.


Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at: [email protected]