Claire (Carley Preston) and Anna (T Loving) can't fill their empty mansion with love.
Think of Neil Simon's quippy dialogue with a razor’s edge and you’ve got David Mamet's lesser known but equally fierce “Boston Marriage,” given a deliciously crisp reading by Something Something Theatre, directed by Avis Judd.
T Loving and Carley Preston are the women with titanium jaws, biting down hard on each other – but with a proper decorum that is at times over-the-moon hilarious because both women are so angry yet so determined to prove their impeccable manners have mettle. A comedy of manners, Victorian style.
Also awesome is Jill Baker, no stranger to high-falutin' surroundings after appearing at the Rogue Theatre a few times. She plays the hapless Maid who works for Anna (Loving), a merciless matron who loves to flaunt her power over the hired help.
At the turn of the 20th century, Anna and Claire (Preston) once were lovers in Boston, a time when the city valued its British heritage and devotion to the London way of doing things.
Anna is determined to convince everyone of her worthiness by never missing an opportunity to demonstrate her knowledge of just about everything, even when she has no idea what she is talking about.
Claire is the cool one, always in control, always a step ahead of Anna, but still in love with her on some level. Claire would never embarrass Anna. She lets Anna do that to herself.
According to Wikipedia, Mamet wrote “Boston Marriage” in 1999 to answer the critics complaining he was a one-note playwright who could only write about men. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
The play never became a hit. It had a seven-week off-Broadway run, followed by several regional productions. Something Something Theatre selected “Boston Marriage” for its Women Who Dare season, setting it right up there with “The Taming of the Shrew.”
In the program notes, Judd refers to today's “coarsening of public discourse and the flippant dismissal of women's voices.”
SST's founding artistic director Joan O'Dwyer sees in the play a defining of helplessness and the fear that women of 100 years ago felt when all of society's customs gave men the advantage.
As the plot develops, both Anna and Claire feel hemmed in. They live in fear of being discovered as lesbians. Anna has no money. She must have a man who will provide for her. We see that no matter how proper these women appear in public, they are pretty helpless.
But “Boston Marriage” isn't necessarily about that. For those with no interest in feminist politics, “Boston Marriage” is still worth watching just to appreciate Mamet's ear for period conversation and his gift for writing dialogue equally rhythmic and mercurial.
Two for One Something Something lovingly brings Mamet to life, yet why is our intrepid reviewer irked? by Sherilyn Forrester | Tucson Weekly
Presented by Something Something Theatre Company
7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday through Dec. 18
The Community Playhouse
1881 N. Oracle Rd.
Running time: 1 hour and 45 minutes with intermission
To perform roles created by American playwright David Mamet, an actor must have an ability to take convoluted, complex and sometimes incomplete thoughts comprised of both short and lengthy sentences or phrases and fire them from one's mouth like bullets from an AK-47. So precise and recognizable is his M.O. with dialogue that it has come to be known as "Mamet speak."
Mamet's way with words is on display in Something Something Theatre Company's production of his play Boston Marriage. Overall it's a good production, I discovered after I was able to track it down. Oh yes, you bet there's a story there, and I will share it with you in a few paragraphs.
Boston Marriage is not one of Mamet's better-known plays. Although he is a prolific writer in various genres, he is probably best known for his 1994 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Glengarry Glen Ross, which he adapted for film in 1992. He also wrote the screenplays for 1981's The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Untouchables, and The Verdict, among others.
In Boston Marriage Mamet has managed to turn the straight man's fantasy of two women "doing it" into a very funny play. And this production delivers the comedy with gusto.
For those unfamiliar with the term, Boston marriage refers to an arrangement in which two women lived together and enjoyed an intimate emotional and perhaps even sexual relationship. It was a term used in the last years of the 19th century and into the 20th century, possibly as a result of Henry James' book, The Bostonians, which dealt with such a relationship. Since women were not allowed to work in mainstream jobs, often these relationships had to be subsidized by inherited wealth, or being employed in "women's work," such as teaching. Sometimes women became mistresses to married men who would give them gifts and provide financial support.
In Mamet's play, Anna (T Loving) is such a women, mistress to a very generous man, her "protector," she calls him. Her "roommate," Claire (Carley Elizabeth Preston), having been away for a while, returns with the news that she has found true love, which upsets Anna—or so it seems. It's hard to tell exactly what's up with Anna. She is able to turn an ordinary conversation into an episode akin to Greek tragedy. She is a one-person melodrama costumed in an outrageously over-the-top gown that reeks of comic tastelessness. And she can be mean.
Anna says Claire can invite her paramour to their home for some dilly-dallying, but only if she can watch. (More male fantasy?) Needing the use of their home, what can Claire do but relent, although she insists that Anna not be in the room but peer from a hole in the wall or some such thing. The paramour arrives and—well, I wouldn't want to spoil it for you. Let's just say that not all the stars have aligned positively for this meeting. In the meantime, confusion reigns between the two ladies and their maid, creating a rapid-fire farce of words.
This is a different Mamet than we usually expect. His theater world is full of men and their foul ways and even fouler mouths. Here, Mamet gives us a period piece with women. But because of his excellent skill with language, and by setting his story in Victorian times, these women, particularly Anna, deliver punishingly harsh language, albeit with a high-class feel. But it's still rapid-fire wordplay, and the combination of nasty plus class makes it really funny.
Loving has the most difficult job of dealing with Mamet's language. Anna loves to talk and she cares not for an economy of words. Loving handles this load well. And she handles the histrionics well, although she is so blatantly manipulative and unforgiving that it's hard to imagine what Claire ever saw in her. Her bad-tempered energy needs to be calmed from time to time, and that would allow us to be able to imagine some attractive charm. Preston can match Anna's vitriol, but with much fewer words. She grows more and more impatient with Anna, and they both grow impatient with Catherine (Jill Baker), the maid, who is in way over her head. Attempts and failures to communicate between this threesome is richly comic.
Avis Judd directs, and she also designed the intentionally tasteless costumes. She does both quite capably. The other design elements are adequate.
Now, for the story I mentioned above. Consider this feature a twofer: A review of a play as well as a review of theater practices.
Something Something is a relatively new kid on the theater block. They don't have a single venue to house their productions regularly. For this show they have rented the Community Playhouse theater on Oracle, between Grant and Speedway.
I have been to this venue several times, and I was aware that the actual entrance to the theater adjoined a parking lot at the rear of the building. I have always entered the parking lot from a gate on north side. When arrived opening night, that gate was closed. Locked. No entry. Hmm. I could see cars in the lot. How did they get there? I was flummoxed. Well, the thing to do, of course, was to call the theater's phone number listed on their website, which I looked up on my trusty smart phone. I called—and there was no answer. Strange. I texted. I emailed. I rattled the heavy locked gate as ferociously as I could. Nothing.
I left when it became clear that I was not going to be able to be able to gain entrance.
Turns out, there is another gate off a side street through which cars and patrons had entered the parking lot. I felt like an outsider of a secret club, not knowing the secret handshake. Or password. Mostly I was just pissed.
I returned to the theater Sunday because I had an assignment to review this play. I entered through the unlocked north gate, the same one that had been locked the other night. Smooth sailing. Easy-peasey. No fuss, no muss.
The thing that really got me was that there was no way to reach the theater when there was a problem. I may have been a doofus for not knowing the lay of the land, but I tried to rid myself of my doofus-ness by calling the theater. I was shocked when later I learned that their phone was turned off a couple of hours before the show. Huh? Surely I'm not the only doofus who might be trying to figure out how to gain entrance, or who might call to ask if there were still seats available, or to see if the show was suitable for kids—whatever.
Yeah, I'm picking on this theater because I was inconvenienced by them. But there is a larger issue.
Theater groups need to make sure there is an organizational platform in place so they can interact with their would-be audience. For small theaters, this aspect of their institution gets slighted as most energy goes into mounting plays. But without the means, the machine, to make it easy for theatergoers to learn about and attend those shows, even a group producing good plays will dissolve, sooner than later.
Rant over. Now go see this play.
Theater in Tucson: David Mamet makes women as unlikable as he makes men by Kathleen Allen | Tucson.com
Photo: Clark Llohr
L to R: T Loving, Carley Preston, and Jill Baker in Something Something's "Boston Marriage"
If there’s a pleasant character in David Mamet’s creative soul, we’ve yet to see it.
His testosterone-driven plays such as “Glengarry Glen Ross” and “American Buffalo” are loaded with men who ooze slime, manipulate with glee, and lack a moral compass.
No surprise, his women in “Boston Marriage” are just as unpleasant. The comedy is Something Something Theatre Company’s current offering.
This one is a bit of a switch for Mamet: There are only female characters, and it is set in the late 19th century. The title is a quaint term for two women who are in a romantic relationship.
The humor and the horror (the way the women treat each other is the horror) are underscored in Director Avis Judd’s hands, and her cast of three — Jill Baker, T Loving and Carley Elizabeth Preston — caress Mamet’s complex, smart language and have some keen timing.
Loving is Anna, who has a nice set-up thanks to a sugar daddy who pays her rent and gives her jewelry in exchange for, well, you know what. Her one-time lover, Claire (Preston) has come to visit. Claire, it seems, has fallen for a woman so young she can’t leave her home without a chaperone. Claire is hoping that Anna will provide the room for a “vile assignation.” Anna is not happy — she still has a thing for Claire. After much protest and hemming and hawing Anna agrees. But only if she is allowed to watch. She will be discreet about it, of course — she’ll look through a peephole.
Constantly interrupting their discussion is the teary-eyed maid (Baker), Scottish, though Anna insists she is Irish, and delightfully confused about just about everything.
This cast is strong and handles Mamet’s rat-a-tat language with authority.
The trouble with this play is that Mamet’s language here is overwrought, the plot is thin, and there is just nobody who is likable in the play.
Worse, Mamet leaves us little to think about. “Glengarry Glen Ross” prompted thoughts about deception and its costs; “American Buffalo” took on the broken American dream, loyalty and greed.
But “Boston Marriage” is too thin and too self-indulgent to give us something to chew on.
What it does have is a cast that knows how to underscore the humor and drive home the language. And it’s Mamet’s language — even at its worst, it’s better than most.
Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4128.
(The thoughtful cast at work.)
Gently presented, Something Something Theatre's production of “Body Awareness” by Annie Baker asks its audience to think instead of react. Thoughtfulness marks the audience responses, as well as the actors responses to each other.
In a time when stereotyping has practically become a dirty word, Baker suggests that the female stereotyping of male behavior is just as bad, too. Baker has more in mind.
"My goal for the play is to not judge anyone, (but) to get at that point where everyone is equally right and equally wrong,” Baker is quoted by Wikipedia.
This determination to not have a political agenda is refreshing, to be sure. It leaves room for a naturalness in the dialogue that will draw you into the low-key presentation, as directed by Joan O'Dwyer. At times, sitting in the audience almost feels like eavesdropping on the people in the play.
As the story opens, it is Body Awareness Week at the fictional Shirley State College in Shirley, Vermont. Each day of the week features a different guest speaker. On one particular day, the guest speaker is Frank Bonitatibus (Roger Owen), a middle-aged man whose profession is taking pictures of nude women of all ages.
The other three cast members are Phyllis (Whitney Morton Woodcock) the psychology professor who has organized Body Awareness Week, her lover Joyce (Monica Wolfkill) a high school social studies teacher and Joyce's socially awkward 21-year-old virgin son Jared (Lorenzo Montijo) from a previous marriage, who has symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome.
It is surely a collection of delicate personalities, whose balance is rattled when Joyce independently decides she would like to pose for Frank's camera. He's just such a puppy dog kind of guy. What could possibly go wrong.
This decision rattles Phyllis, who is already convinced Frank is filled with ulterior motives, just like all men. Momentum builds when Jared is also drawn to Frank as a father figure, seeking his advice on sexual matters with questions of Asperger-directness.
The end of this 100-minute one-act comes quietly, rather than arriving with a bolt of insight. But then, we leave the theater feeling a new awareness for the possibilities that can be found in an imperfect life.
"Body Awareness” runs through Oct. 16 with shows at 7:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, in the downtown Cabaret Space, 330 S. Scott Ave. Tickets are $22, $18 students, seniors, military. For details and reservations, go tosomethingsomethingtheatre.com.
The Body Electric A winning, understated production tackles the male gaze, Asperger’s Syndrome and what could be offensive in photography by Sherilyn Forrester | October 6, 2016
Monica Wolfkill, left, and Whitney Morton Woodcock in Body Awareness.
The Something Something Theatre Company (I don't understand the allure of the name either) has done itself proud with their production of Body Awareness, a nifty little play by Annie Baker. The company is only a couple of years old, and as often happens, things can get off to a bumpy start. This is by far the best piece I've seen and I hope it portends the shape of things come.
Baker's play is a brief but substantive gem. A young playwright, she has already won a Pulitzer Prize for her play Flick. Here she has created interesting characters and has placed them in interesting circumstances, and the story unfolds in credible and convincing ways (which is surprisingly not the case with so many newer plays that have been offered audiences of late).
Baker shows us an unconventional home inhabited by Joyce (Monica Wolfkill), her partner of three years, Phyllis (Whitney Morton Woodcock) and Joyce's son Jared (Lorenzo Montijo). The first scene introduces us to Joyce and Jared, an odd-seeming sort of young man, arguing about whether or not Jared is autistic, or, more particularly, if he has Asperger's Syndrome, a type of autism in which an individual can be high functioning and is often exceedingly bright, but has trouble connecting socially. Jared insists he doesn't have the condition and Joyce tries to convince him that although he may not, it might be wise to be evaluated. Jared's been reading a book about the disorder and forcefully argues that he doesn't have Asperger's, citing many of the book's distinctions and categories that he definitely doesn't fall into. His mother doesn't push, assuring him she doesn't think he is a "retard," as Jared charges her with believing. He's clearly aware that he may not be like others, but hates that he might have an identity foisted on him. The focus on Jared and his search for a sense of self is a thread running throughout the fabric of Baker's play, which is skillfully woven with other related themes.
One of these themes is the objectification of women, the size and shape of their bodies, especially by the "male gaze." Phyllis is a professor of psychology at Shirley State College, a feminist through and through, who has put together a weeklong symposium called Body Awareness Week, with a variety of related activities. Baker uses the convention of Phyllis addressing her symposium audience each day, with scenes of family interactions, the real meat of the play, happening after each day's brief opening address. There are in these addresses small but significant ideas that are a part of the play's intent.
A photographer named Frank (Roger Owen) has been invited to exhibit his work for the event and is staying with the family. When Phyllis learns that he photographs nude females of all ages, she is angered at what she is sure is exploitative. His presence provokes the pre-existing tension between the members of the family and is a catalyst for the events that more fully reveal their troubles.
Baker shows restraint and patience when writing these characters, and that's one of the things that makes us like them enough to be engaged by their story. And we are engaged, in a quiet, reflective way. There's a bit of drama that hooks us and moves the characters in new directions, but it's far from a big, melodramatic conflict. But because of the storytelling demands, we do need to feel tension tightening as the story plays out, and perhaps there might be more of that tightening demonstrated in this production.
Something Something's (OK—that's the last time I'm writing that) production, directed by Joan O'Dwyer, is a smart and earnest effort that wins us over from the start. That's largely due to the wonderful performance of Montijo as Jared. He is odd, he is difficult, he's argumentative and he walks around with a battery-driven toothbrush as a sort of security blanket. But Montijo embraces what Baker has created in the character, which is a real sense of vulnerability. We feel for him.
Wolfkill gives us a sympathetic Joyce, stretched between her son and her partner and herself. Morton can be strident and out-spoken and uber-P.C. Her character isn't always likeable, which is fine, but I never really felt that the women demonstrated a deep attraction and commitment. Owen gives us a low-key Frank, an artist sensitive enough to feel the tension in the family. He offers an honest dose of the world beyond the college town not with bravado, but simply with his rather fascinating persona. He's not defensive when Phyllis attacks his motives for photographing little girls; he merely offers his sensibilities as an artist. Owen delivers this well.
There are some inadequacies (diction, please) and some deeper character work could be mined, but none is big enough to dissuade us from sharing this family's story. Scott Berg's set is attractive and works quite well, as does Mike Saxon's lighting and sound.
There were but three people in the audience when I saw the show, which was performed in the Cabaret above the Temple of Music and Art, and there was a conflict with ATC's annual gala that forced the theater to change what would be its regular Saturday night performance to the afternoon. Unfortunately, distracting noises, including loud music, managed to plague the performance.
I don't know if that's the reason there was a tiny audience. But it's a good show. It deserves an audience.
Something Something launches season centered on women by Chastity Laskey | Special to the Arizona Daily Star Oct 5, 2016
Something Something Theatre hopes to add a little something to the Tucson theater scene with a season of shows honoring and celebrating women.
Joan O’Dwyer, Esther Almazan and Whitney Morton Woodcock founded Something Something Theatre with the goal of presenting modern plays already in the canon, reimagining classics and moving the spotlight to women playwrights and their plays, which are often underrepresented in the industry.
Something Something’s first offering for this season is Annie Baker’s “Body Awareness,” with O’Dwyer in the director’s chair.
“‘Body Awareness’ is about a photographer who takes nude pictures of women, just using them as an exhibit, but also about a lesbian relationship and Asperger’s syndrome,” O’Dwyer said. “It’s really all those things rolled up into one great play.”
At the center of the story is a controversial artist who comes to town for “Body Awareness Week” at the local college. While there, he has an impact on the family with whom he is staying.
“What I like about this play is it’s about conflict and dysfunction that doesn’t have to be,” said Roger Owen, who has been acting on and off for 50 years. “I play a character, Frank Bonitatibus, and he can come off creepy, but I think he’s got a good soul.”
O’Dwyer says Something Something’s goal is for 50 percent of the plays they produce to be written by women.
“Men just don’t always talk about things in plays like women do,” O’Dwyer said. “I’m not just talking about family and relationship dynamics but about war and religion.” She said women playwrights more often incorporate other mediums, such as dance and music.
Monica Wolfkill, who has been acting for 17 years, likes that her character, Joyce, “stands up for herself and her opinion. She reclaims her position in life and realizes she’s an important person, not just a mom to a kid she can’t control; she has a voice.”
Wolfkill appreciates the way Something Something operates.
“I like the company because they take risks with the shows, they’re not done-to-death stuff everybody’s used to and has been done everywhere,” Wolfkill says.
O’Dwyer said they really want their prices, shows and audiences to be attainable, while also stretching their audience a little bit.
“I hope they feel an actual interaction with us on stage and in talkbacks or post-show discussions,” she said. “I think our plays are going to be worth talking about.”
Chastity Laskey is a University of Arizona journalism student apprenticing at the Star.
Photo: Kelly Presnell/ AZ Daily Star
Carly Elizabeth Preston probes the depths of desperation as Hester Swane in "The Bog of Cats" at Theatre ZUZI.
It takes a village to raise a monster, too. And you can bet no villager is going to step forward to take the credit. Certainly not in Ireland's rural Bog of Cats where the witchy Catwoman (Martie van der Voort) slurps her milk from a bowl.
Yes, we are speaking of the new and ambitious Something Something Theatre Company with its production “The Bog of Cats” by Marina Carr, in which the director Joan O'Dwyer has drawn a deeply profound performance from Carley Elizabeth Preston as the terminally troubled Hester Swane.
Preston has been a successful Tucson actor for several years, playing both comedic and serious roles. But her performance here is something beyond all that, a far more complex and artistically meaningful accomplishment.
Every Carly Preston fan will want to see this show, so years from now they can claim to have been there when she created such a simultaneously horrifying and sympathetic character.
O'Dwyer takes pride in the playwright's choice of loosely basing this work on the tragic Greek myth of Media, by making the role of Hester a symbol of suppressed female energy in a rigid society of traditional values. The harder Hester tries to justify her own defiant life choices, the more certain becomes her demise.
A sprawling cast of 12 (the child role of Josie is double-cast) creates some confusing scenes in Act One on the expansive Zuzi Theater stage steeped in shadows. It takes awhile to get all the main personalities established and their conflicted demands defined.
But then in the second act each of the players has at least one showcase scene, their emotions adding one by one to the stack of hurdles blocking Hester's path to resolution. As her frustration builds, so does the sour nature of this imploding little community that can't help feeding on itself.
Basically, we have Carthage Kilbride (Nowell Kral), the young father of Hester's beloved seven-year-old child Josie (played by Sierra Ryan-Langan and Melanie Sparrold), all set to marry the more well-to-do and lovely Caroline Cassidy (Jasmine Roth).
Never mind that Carthage and Hester (who is about 10 years older than Carthage), have already been living together for a decade without benefit of marriage. Although Josie their child has been happily living with them, Carthage now wants Josie to leave her mother. Josie must come live with him and Caroline once they are properly married.
Josie is upset by this, and rightfully so. Meanwhile, Caroline's father Xavier (Roger Owen) has his own reasons for being bothered by Josie continuing to live with Hester.
Adding their voices are Monica Murray (O'Dwyer), as a kind of one-person Greek chorus sympathetic to Hester's plight, and Carthhage's eccentric mother Mrs. Kilbride (India Osborne), who provides the play's comic relief.
Paul Hammack gets his measure of laughs as the tipsy priest Father Willow. Vaughn Sherman has a small but pivotal role as the young Ghost of Joseph Swane, who was Hester's brother.
It takes all of Act One to get the main personalities established and their conflicted demands defined. Having so many inexperienced actors on stage does turn many of the scenes into a bit of a muddle.
But this also gives Preston time to build her own fated momentum, which we watch helplessly from the sidelines. Imagine a freight train bearing down on a cluster of cows innocently nibbling grass between the railroad ties.
“The Bog of Cats” continues through Nov. 22, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, at Theatre ZUZI! in the Historic Y, 738 N. Fifth Ave. Tickets are $22, with discounts available. For details and reservations, www.somethingsomethingtheatre.com
Ever since I saw the steamy and heartwarming “Anna in the Tropics” by Nilo Cruz, produced by Arizona Theatre Company in 2004, I have loved this play. It contains so many of my favorite topics.
The importance of quality, the temptation of compromise, the nature of true love, the nourishment of family – it's all there in this Pulitzer Prize winner which Something Something Theatre Company opened recently.
Esther Almazan as director finds the magic in every key scene, stirring up all the flavorful emotions of a traditional Cuban family determined to keep its traditional cigar making “factory” alive on the Florida gulf coast.
They call it a factory but really it is just a handful of relatives sitting around wooden tables in the early 1900s, patiently and lovingly rolling up just the right blend of carefully chosen tobacco leaves – not too loose, not to tight – to create heavenly cigars.
Early on we are reminded just how much of a period piece this is, when one of the characters proclaims that every man has two loves in life, his wife and his cigar.
Former smokers should be warned that this rich dialogue contains many wonderful references to the joys of smoking. These are characters who do, indeed, appreciate all the pleasure their lives have to offer. Spend much time in their company and lighting up even a cigarette starts to seem well worth the risk.
Cigarettes, though, are just for those modern types working so hard to make piles of money that they don't have time to stop long enough to properly appreciate the full draw of a fine cigar rolled by hand with great affection.
That's the type of cigar this family creates through the long, hot days before air conditioning was invented. To help the time pass more pleasantly, it became the tradition in Cuba for cigar factories to hire a reader, someone who sat in a chair opposite the workers to expressively read them world class literature.
These readers were as theatrical as they were educated, knowing all the greatest published books. To the largely uneducated cigar rollers, mostly women, the readers were like rock stars.
In the Something Something cast, Eddie Diaz as Cheche is the spark plug of confrontation, insisting this family is terminally stuck in the past. They need to act like Americans, buy modern cigar-making machines that cheaply produce hundreds more cigars. Yes, they are inferior smokes...but so what?
CiCi Salcido holds center stage as Ofelia, the matriarch who keeps everything together, insisting their family is known for making the best cigars and always will be. Stepping into this tinder box of combustible passion is the factory's new reader arriving from Havanna, Juan Julian (newcomer Thomas Tucker).
Ever gracious and refusing to take sides, Juan becomes romantically involved with Conchita (a convincing Whitney Morton Woodcock). Unfortunately, Conchita is already married to Palomo (Tiernan Erickson). You can see where this is going.
Strong in smaller roles are Paul Hammack playing Santiago, the harried husband of Ofelia. He always means well, and feels so sorry about drinking too much. Robin Carson brings spunky energy as the young and idealistic Marela.
This is the debut season of Something Something Theatre, starting out the Tucson way with very little in resources but moving van loads of courage and enthusiasm. Their investment is paying off.
“Anna in the Tropics” runs through May 1, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, at the ZUZI! theater in the Historic Y, 738 N. Fifth Ave.
Tickets are $22 general admission, $18 students, seniors, military. For details and reservations, 520.468.6111, or visit somethingsomethingtheatre.com
Maybe too subtle for its own good, but loads of fun to discuss afterward, “4,000 Miles” does call for your patience but also provides a nice reward.
As the winner of an Obie and a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Drama, the play compares leftist attitudes of radical communist supporters in the 1940s with today's progressive activists more concerned with America's attitudes toward gender and race.
Is one more important than the other? Does the history of one hold any implications for the coming history of the other? Can we actually learn anything from contemplating any of this?
There is the part where Vera gruffly calls Leo's sensitive philosophizing “New Age baloney,” but Leo gets in his licks, too. He looks at the collection of communist tomes written by Vera's late husband and finds them quaint.
Amy Herzog the playwright is too determined not to take sides in this philosophical debate. But the hippies did seem to be having more fun than today's tight-jawed feminists and racial score-card keepers.
Tucson's most daring new company of thespians, the Something Something Theater led by Joan O'Dwyer, fearlessly raises its own bar of expectations by presenting “4000 Miles” in the downtown Cabaret Space at the Temple of Music and Art.
DDavis is cast as 91-year-old Vera, a lifetime denizen of Greenwich Village living in a rent-controlled apartment. Feeling as committed to the cause as ever, she recalls that sentimental image of the old firehouse dog who sleeps all day but is instantly ready to run when the fire bell goes off.
Eric Everts plays Leo, 21-year-old grandson of Vera, who arrives unannounced at her apartment in the middle of the night, carrying the bicycle he has just ridden from Seattle. He did stop first at his ex-girlfriend's Manhattan apartment, but she threw him out.
While “4000 Miles” contains no echoes of “Harold and Maude,” there is a kind of wary understanding that does develop between the fading Vera and needy Leo. She recognizes his outsider status, sees through the veneer he tries to project for protection.
Leo is convinced he is helping his grandmother just by showing up. And in some ways, he is. Additional complications pop up when Leo's ex-girlfriend Bec (Meagan Jones) does show up at Vera's place.
And there is the night Leo brings home an even younger pop culture progressive, Amanda (Samantha Orzech), whose ideas come with a right wing rigidity.
There is a resolution of sorts to this demand for change across the generations. That demand to divide us into winners and losers is inherent in the American personality, a carryover from our frontier past when only the winners survived.
But there is also the implication that all this agitation hasn't accomplished much of anything. That maybe Facebook is right, the real winners are the bankers, the military-industrial combine, corporate executives, Wall Street's money manipulators...
“4000 Miles” continues through February 28 with performances at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, in the Cabaret Space at the Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave. Tickets are $22, with $4 discounts for students and seniors. For details and reservations, 520.468.6111, or visit somethingsomethingtheatre.com