On With Their Heads

Cleveland's top acting couple brings British drama to Beck.

Talking Heads Beck Center for the Arts, 17801 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood Friday, May 30, through June 22. Show times are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 to $19; call 216-521-2540.

Reuben and Dorothy Silver jet off to London every year, spending two weeks in a rented flat and taking in some theatuh. Last year, they saw Maggie Smith perform a monologue from Talking Heads, based on a popular BBC program. Reuben knew he had to bring the stage version to Cleveland, and he did: The Silvers' two-person play debuts May 30 at Beck Center.

Talking Heads is a collection of dramatic monologues about the lives of five ordinary Brits. There's Lesley, an actress who needs a career boost; Doris, an environmentalist reflecting on a life crusading for dirt; and Muriel, who's determined not to let widowhood drag her down. "It's written beautifully for savvy audiences," says Reuben, who Americanized the script to eliminate British slang. In their adaptation of "A Chip in the Sugar," 77-year-old Reuben plays a fiftysomething gay man still living with his mother, who is in the process of rekindling an old flame. In "Bed Among the Lentils," Dorothy portrays the alcoholic wife of a country priest. During rehearsals, the Silvers direct each other.

Cleveland's most celebrated acting couple met as college students 55 years ago. Reuben was driving a cab to make money. One day, he pulled up in front of the campus theater, saw Dorothy, and asked her out. They've been together ever since. Between 1955 and 1976, Reuben, then the director at Karamu House, hired his wife to guest-direct plays starring such unknowns as Robert Guillaume, Earl Billings, and Gilbert Moses. For the last decade, the Silvers have appeared in stage productions throughout the area.

"It's not a Hollywood ending," Reuben says. "But we wouldn't have it any other way."

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