With tastes of the New York theatre season and a new 600-seat space to christen, California's Berkeley Repertory Theatre will keep busy with presentations Charles L. Mee's Big Love, Donald Margulies' Dinner With Friends, Carlo Gozzi's The Green Bird and a rotating Orestia.
That final trio of Aeschylus' plays, Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers and The Eumenides, mark the debut of the Theatre Next Door, the Rep's second space at its newly-expanded Addison Street home. Berkeley Rep artistic director Tony Taccone and Stephen Wadsworth direct the production, running March 9, 2001-May 6.
While the trilogy runs on the new stage, Charles L. Mee's Humana Festival hit, Big Love, a reinterpretation of Aeschylus' The Suppliant Women, will play the mainstage April 20, 2001-June 10. In this story of the battle of the sexes, fifty women are engaged to fifty brothers without their consent. They run away to Italy, but when finally tracked down by the grooms, they each vow to give a wedding night their husbands will never forget.
Three actors and three actresses stand in for the hundred brides and grooms in the play, which is extremely physical and features musical interludes wherein both men and women throw themselves about vigorously.
The death of love in another way is the subject of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize winner, Dinner With Friends, Nov. 10-Jan. 5, 2001. Margulies (Sight Unseen, Collected Stories) writes of two couples, all friends, and how the break up of two of them sends shivers through their friendships and the other marriage. The Green Bird, Gozzi's fable of two lost twins traveling through a magical land of singing apples and talking statues, makes an appearance on the Berkeley stage Sept. 8-Oct. 27. Currently on Broadway in a Julie Taymor production, The Green Bird mixes commedia dell'arte and an operatic story line. Berkeley's staging promises a mixture of puppets, Kabuki elements and experimental theatre techniques. Dominique Serrand directs this Bird, adapted by Theatre de la Jeune Lune.
Instead of taking Broadway's cue for a swing dance musical, Berkeley will stage a play about swing dance with Bridget Carpenter's Susan Smith Blackburn prize winner, Fall (Jan. 19, 2001-March 11). The quiet comedy sets daughter Lydia against her parents, Jill and Dog (a short form for Doug), as they take her off to swing dance camp, hoping she will learn to dance. Instead she learns how to fall in love.
The final selection for Berkeley's season, set for the June 1, 2001-July 22 slot, has not yet been announced.
Season subscriptions are available with single tickets going on sale in August. For further information, call (510) 845-4700. Berkeley Repertory Theatre is on the web at http://www.berkeleyrep.org.
-- By Christine Ehren