Review: You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up

by Wendy Rosenfield

for the Inquirer

Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn’s You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up, currently making a stop at the Penn’s Landing Playhouse, bills itself as “the hilarious comedy about relationships, love and marriage.” Many, many people have paid good money to watch spouses complain about each other: think Albee’s George and Martha, Durang’s Bette and Boo, most of Shakespeare’s comedic couples. We watch because they show us what goes on behind other people’s closed doors and reveal some uncomfortable truths about the states of our own unions. Their extremes make them compelling, allow us to keep watching and often, laughing.

Gurwitch and Kahn are a real-life Los Angeles couple, she a mid-level television personality, actor and writer, he an Emmy-winning writer (for MTV’s The Ben Stiller Show) and actor. Their show reconstructs an odd courtship (five years of Gurwitch ignoring Kahn, one month when Gurwitch, moving to New York for a work stint, unceremoniously dumps her cat on Kahn’s doorstep, and finally, a date), strained marriage, and parenthood of a son who is, obviously, “amazing.” 

Neither actor, Robin Abramson’s Gurwitch nor Gregory Johnstone’s Kahn, wears a wedding band, and while it’s unclear if this is Van Kaplan’s directorial decision or just an oversight, it’s certainly telling. Seated at a restaurant table on the eve of their 10th anniversary--a restaurant that apparently hosts no other customers, employs no waitstaff, serves no food, and allows them to address an audience--Kahn and Gurwitch desperately attempt to convince us they’re a happy couple. Kahn confesses he hoped marriage would be “a chance to try out some really kinky karma sutra. [sic]” Gurwitch hates lingerie and sex (though she doesn’t mind bragging about all the men she bagged before marriage). 

His Facebook page has a dubious relationship status, she argues with him about it onstage and on the page, for us and all their friends to see. One of the many differences between these awful narcissists and, say George and Martha, is that Albee recognized his characters’ pathologies and exploited them; Gurwitch and Kahn mistake theirs for charm. There are boring, unhappy couples everywhere, it’s true, but you sure don’t have to pay to watch them.

Playing at: Penn’s Landing Playhouse, 211 S. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia. Through Sunday, Nov. 24. Tickets: $35-$55. Information: 855-HIT-SHOW or

We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Load comments