Parallel Lives

Mark Finley's new play, The Mermaid, is a story about two people: Judith, a simple and virginal college co-ed who is coming of age in 1962, and Martin, a gay man approaching his midlife crisis in 1998. Finley draws thematic inspiration from classic authors, quoting Shakespeare's Pericles, Hamlet, and Twelfth Night, as well as Jean Girandoux's Ondine. And though The Mermaid does not live up to its own lofty expectations, it is nonetheless an enjoyable tale about the far-reaching consequences of the decisions that people make. The play begins in 1962, with Judith practicing her audition piece for her university's upcoming production of Ondine. She is interrupted by Lee, a young gay actor with Broadway aspirations, and Reid, a clueless but charming athlete looking to boost his grade point average so he can stay on the team. Both Judith and Lee soon find themselves smitten with Reid.

Meanwhile, in 1998, Martin shares a drink with his actress friend Amy, who has just finished a rock opera version of Pericles. She is somewhat upset that Martin, an orphan himself, did not enjoy the classic tale of the Prince of Tyre's quest to find his orphaned daughter. Before long, Martin's boyfriend Ken joins the duo. A few years Martin's senior, Ken is ready to settle down and adopt a child, and he has found the perfect one. But Martin wants to try to find his birth mother and come to terms with his insecurities before becoming a father.

And so Judith and Martin stumble forward, making decisions that influence those around them

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