Kate Fry and Mark L. Montgomery in Outside Mullingar Credit: Michael Brosilow

Kate Fry and Mark L. Montgomery

No, they aren’t married. Not to each other, anyway. But they’ve been paired enough that I’m beginning to think of them as the Lunt and Fontanne, the Bogart and Bacall, the Bill and Hillary of Chicago theater. Over the last four years I’ve seen Kate Fry and Mark L. Montgomery perform opposite each other in four exceptional shows. In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play (Victory Gardens Theater, 2011) cast Montgomery as a Victorian doctor whose wife—Fry—gets curious about his delightful cure for “hysteria.” In The Letters (Writers Theatre, 2012) they were toxic colleagues at a Soviet publishing house. Fry took the title role in a masterful Hedda Gabler (Writers again, 2014), with Montgomery playing Eilert Løvborg, the primary focus of her destructive impulses. And the two of them appeared again in Outside Mullingar (Northlight Theatre, 2015), John Patrick Shanley’s tale of romantically stunted neighbors. The productions were wildly different, running from blarney to tragedy, yet Fry and Montgomery in the leads made them all required watching.