Opening the 17th season of Primary Stages Off-Broadway will be An Immaculate Misconception, a drama about the ethics of fertility experimentation by the real-life scientist who invented the birth control pill. Carl Djerassi has written five books and more than 1,200 journal articles, but this is his first play.
Starring will be Ann Dowd (Remembrance), David Adkins, Adam Rose and Thomas Schall. Designing the fictional piece are G.W. Mercier (set), Laura Crow (costumes), Deborah Constantine (lighting) and Lewis Flinn (music and sound).
Djerassi's autobiographical book, "This Man's Pill," is due for publication via Oxford University Press about the same time as the show goes up in New York. Previews for An Immaculate Misconception begin Sept. 19 for an opening Oct. 1 and a run through Oct. 21. Margaret Booker, founder of Seattle's Intiman Theatre, directs.
Following Misconception will be Conor McPherson's Dublin Carol, running Nov. 21-Dec. 23, officially opening Dec. 3. Once Broadway-bound, the play premiered at London's Old Vic with Brian Cox in the lead and director Ian Rickson at the helm. Cox is familiar with McPherson's work, having starred in the playwright's St. Nicholas in London and at Primary Stages in 1998. Other McPherson plays seen in Manhattan included This Lime Tree Bower, also at Primary Stages, and The Weir, which played eight months on Broadway beginning in March 1999. Carol tells the story of an alcoholic man whose estranged daughter offers him a final chance for redemption on Christmas Eve.
A play for the company's winter slot has yet to be chosen, but the season will end with Fall, a coming-of-age play about a young girl's first swing and sexual steps. Fall was first staged at RI's Trinity Rep and then at Baltimore's Center Stage at the end of 2000. Berkeley Rep, which co-produced with Center Stage, then mounted the play in January of this year. Obie-winner Lisa Peterson (Collected Stories, Slavs!) directed that co- production, though it's not certain she'll remain with the project, which producer Mark Balsam (Bells are Ringing) has been eyeing for a commercial run, should the Primary Stages mounting go well.
In Fall, 14-year-old scuba aficionado Lydia finds herself forced to attend a Catalina swing camp with her dance-obsessed "freak" parents, Dog (short for Doug) and Jill. But the teenager just discovering her hormones will learn more than the Lindy when she's faced with lessons about love, life and family. During the play, Lydia is shadowed by two dancer characters, Lead and Follow, who mirror her emotional state with their moves.
Carpenter's other plays include The Death of the Father of Psychoanalysis (& Anna), Mr. Xmas, West, Typhoid Mary and Tiny. She received the 1999-2000 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for Fall.
For tickets ($45 each production) and information on shows at Primary Stages, 354 West 45th St., call (212) 333-4052.
— By David Lefkowitz
and Christine Ehren