The nights might be chillier but the Westport Country Playhouse is still running hot! It's stellar 2013 season isn't nearly over.
The world premiere of Carly Mensch's alluring new play Oblivion begins tonight. Ms. Mensch's sharp, witty dialogue is found on Showtime's “Nurse Jackie” and “Weeds,” where she is gainfully employed as a writer for half of the year. The other half of the year is devoted to writing and developing the numerous plays she is continuously working on.
Directed by Mark Brokaw, the recipient of the Drama Desk Award, Obie Award and Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Director of a Play for How I Learned to Drive, Oblivion focuses on parent-adolescent relationships in contemporary families where these roles are perhaps not quite as defined as they were even a decade ago.
Westport Country Playhouse's Artistic Director Mark Lamos recently announced the exciting line-up for the historic theater's 2014 season. The theme of the five plays selected is Love.
“The live performing arts are ephemeral, but at their best they can exist powerfully in the imagination long after ceasing to exist on the stage,” Lamos said. “That's why at the Playhouse we strive each year to provide you with dramas, comedies, and musicals that don't just stimulate the heart and mind, but that will leave impressions that linger with you long after the curtain comes down. That holds especially true of our 2014 season, a line up full of extraordinary plays by some of the theater's most talented artists.”
Kicking off the 2014 season on April 29 is Noel Coward's A Song at Twilight, which will be directed by Mr. Lamos and presented as a co-production with Hartford Stage in celebration of the theater company's 50th anniversary season. This production will run through Saturday, May 17. Although the second play hasn't yet been announced, Mr. Lamos plans to also direct the Playhouse's next production, which will be staged June 3 to 21st. Nora, Ingmar Bergman's adaption of A Doll's House, is next on the boards. Directed by David Kennedy, the Playhouse's Associate Artistic Director, Nora will be staged July 15 to Aug. 2.
Audiences will get through the dog-days of August and transition to September with a strong dose of laughter provided by one of the Playhouse's favorite playwrights, Alan Ackybourn. Known for his outrageous comedies, Things We Do For Love is slated to takeover the Westport stage from Aug. 19 to Sept. 6.
And, last but not least, the season concludes with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage's Intimate Apparel, a moving play about a lonely and talented African American seamstress in the early 19th century who must choose between love that is accepted and love that is true.
As always, Mr. Lamos has given theater patrons many opportunities to observe and connect intimately with situations, characters, feelings and topics that may or may not be relevant to their own. However, whether it's conscious or not, the audience will leave the Playhouse doors changed in some way. I know that I always walk into a theater expectant and hopeful that I will be inspired to feel and think in a way that I hadn't been before taking my seat. Of course not every live production elicits the same kind of response.
However, a journey to the Westport Country Playhouse is always a worthwhile venture. I always leave with something to say to my theater partner, my 20-year old daughter Anna. As we wait in our car for the Playhouse traffic to recede, we talk candidly about what we saw, felt, were part of. Our words often overlap as we try to articulate our thoughts about the play's texture, the director's meticulously planned choices, the actor's execution and, most importantly for me, what I may have learned about myself and those around me. This is live theater at its best.
For more information about purchasing tickets to Oblivion or any of the Playhouse's subscription packages for the 2014 season, go to westportplayhouse.org and call 203-227-4177.