The New Haven Theater Company has built up a local reputation for their staging of economic and effective productions of well-known plays—Urinetown, in 2012, is still a high-point, as well as some grab-ya-by-yer-lapels Mamet plays like Glengarry Glen Ross and Speed-the-Plow, not to mention slices of vintage Americana like Waiting for Lefty. Rarely, it seems, do they show off brand new plays. But tonight, thanks to newish member Drew Gray, a product of Bard College, key players in the NHTC family—George Kulp, Peter Chenot, Megan Chenot, Steve Scarpa, Hallie Martenson—will give staged readings of two brand-new plays written by Gray and being work-shopped by NHTC for eventual production. The reading is free, open to all, and takes place at The Luck & Levity Brewshop at 118 Court Street at 8 p.m., preceded by a reception at 7:30.
The new full-length play is “The Magician,” about a less-than-stellar magician on the less-than-five-star Vegas circuit. It’s after another lackluster performance and Mark Wonderton is shooting the shit with his manager Ronnie when he receives news that, as they say, "changes everything," leading to a new performance ethic that might just knock ’em dead. Billed as being akin to “two Mamet characters stuck in a Beckett play,” “The Magician” sounds like the kind of pithy little confrontational drama NHTC can really rock.
The play is paired with a short called “A Tall Hill… …A Warm Day,” in which a somewhat sad-sack character mourns a lost love, a sort of poetic coming to terms with the one that got away.
Both plays will have brief talk-backs with the playwright.
And, in case you’re worried that NHTC will shun their task of giving us grassroots theatrical evenings of American classics, how’s Our Town in the fall strike you? Thornton Wilder’s text has bedeviled many a high school English class to say nothing of all the high school stages it has graced with its winsome, wholesome charm. And yet. Wilder was something of a modernist who did things like read Finnegans Wake in his free time (or “Work in Progress,” as it was known then), so maybe NHTC will bring out the avant-gardey hi-jinx rather than the cuddly Grandpop Walton aura. Wilder attended Yale and ended his days in Hamden, and the play is 75 years young this year. All good reasons—coupled with NHTC’s way of doing this kind of thing, as directed by Steve Scarpa, who directed Clifford Odets’ Lefty in the midst of the OWS winter—to roast this chestnut yet again.