Rhonda Clark and the other minds behind Carpenter Square Theatres creative direction read all of playwright Nicky Silvers new works. Finding one thats a good fit for their intimate production setting is another matter.
Silver is a New York-based writer known for penning off-Broadway productions like 1993s Pterodactyls, 1995s Raised in Captivity and 2004s Beautiful Child.
Clark, Carpenter Square artistic director, said they found a fitting production in Silvers outrageous comedy The Agony & The Agony, which closes out the theater companys 32nd season.
The show debuted June 24 and runs through July 16 at 806 W. Main St.
Traditionally, Carpenter Square presents an offbeat comedy each summer, ending its season on a high note.
The Agony, Clark said, is exactly that kind of production.
This one definitely fits that [description] because the characters often turn out of the scene and address the audience directly, she said.
Characters break the fourth wall to clue the audience in on how they feel or what they have been through.
Silvers story follows a once-promising New York playwright on a long streak of tough breaks.
The Agony is partially based on the writers own experiences, and many of its characters reflect real-life struggles many starving artists face.
Theyre all kind of desperate in some way for work or money; theyre really a collection of losers, she said. Theyre all down on their luck one way or another.
Clark said while she often loves the premise of a story Silver sets up, his endings can leave her cold. Agonys ending, however, feels truly satisfying.
Deep thought is not necessary to appreciate the show.
Instead, Clark advises theatergoers to sit back and enjoy the tale.
Its the same thing in the movies they have their big blockbusters, she said. Its more of a popcorn kind of story, and this definitely fits that.
Nagging neurosisThe Agonys title is a spoof of the 1965 Charlton Heston-led film (and preceding novel) The Agony and the Ecstasy.
Silvers main character, Richard Aglow, portrayed by Jon Haque, is a struggling playwright married to a similarly situated actress, depicted by Christine Lanning.
However, Richard is gay, and their relationship is a marriage of convenience. Sharing a New York City apartment causes its own problems.
On one level, they lead separate lives, but when it comes down to it, they support each other, Clark said. Its an unusual relationship.
Richard attends every support group he possibly can, at least until they figure out he doesnt have the problems he claims.
Clark said the lead character is neurotic and has lived as a virtual hermit for several years as he struggled to write.
We all have someone in our lives who makes every little thing major, Clark explained.
Richard thinks his luck has finally changed after he completes the first act of a new play.
He calls his friends including porn actor Chet (Dylan Cox) and his pregnant girlfriend Anita (Tiffany Tuggle Rogers) and New York producer Anton Knight (Mark Ingham) over in an effort to get the show produced.
Fresh facesThe theater welcomes many new names with this show. Haque stars in his Carpenter Square debut.
Director Ronn Burton grabs the reins for the first time in the venue.
Clark said all of the shows actors are new to Carpenter Square with the exception of Lanning and Rogers.
We love having new energy and different actors for the shows because we do eight shows a year, she said. We love it when actors return, but then when weve got new faces, its great also.
One of the characters in the play Richard is writing, the ghost of notorious real-life murderer Nathan Leopold, seemingly comes to life as a figment of the playwrights imagination.
Leopolds ghost is played by Alex Prather. Clark said the characters energy is a stark contrast from the plays other characters.
What makes him funny is how dry and dead serious hes playing the character, she said. Some of the other characters are just wild. Theyre falling over sofas, theyre jumping on furniture in frustration, theyre leaping over things and then youve got this guy who is very serious, like a high-class wealthy smug from the 20s.Clark also serves as the shows costume designer, a role she often fills in Carpenter Theater shows.
Leopolds mannerisms are not the only things that separate the character from the others.
Audience members will be able to spot the mobster right away.
Weve got ripped and torn jeans, weve got cutoffs, but then we have [Leopold], she said. Its a very period look. Weve got a pocket watch and a chain and the fedora.
The Agony closes out Carpenter Square to the public for a month, but Clark said those in the theater get no break.
Instead, the company will be preparing and rehearsing for the start of its next season, which begins Sept. 2.
The artistic director said those accustomed to the citys bigger venues will find Carpenter Squares cozy theater is a refreshing change of pace.
The Agony, with its confined settings, is especially appropriate for the space.
Were a real intimate theater, Clark said. We have just 90 seats, so youre going to feel like youre almost in the New York City apartment in the Upper West Side with the actors.
For more information, visit carpentersquare.com.
Print Headline: Silver lining; Carpenter Square Theatre ends its season with Nicky Silver comedy The Agony & The Agony.