Cocteau Rep Keeps Polishing Robert Shaw's Glass Booth, Thru April 24

News   Cocteau Rep Keeps Polishing Robert Shaw's Glass Booth, Thru April 24 Most folks know Robert Shaw as the screw-loose sailor in Jaws, but he also gained acclaim for his only play, penned in 1968, The Man In The Glass Booth. That drama, about an eccentric Jewish real estate developer accused of being a sadistic Nazi officer, began a rare revival Jan. 16, at Off-Broadway's Jean Cocteau Repertory.
Christopher Black (top) & Harris Berlinsky

Christopher Black (top) & Harris Berlinsky

Photo by Photo by Jonathan Slaff

Most folks know Robert Shaw as the screw-loose sailor in Jaws, but he also gained acclaim for his only play, penned in 1968, The Man In The Glass Booth. That drama, about an eccentric Jewish real estate developer accused of being a sadistic Nazi officer, began a rare revival Jan. 16, at Off-Broadway's Jean Cocteau Repertory.

Good reviews and audience interest have extended that show's run past its scheduled March 26 close to April 24.

Eve Adamson directs this darkly psychological piece, which is deliberately unclear about whether the protagonist is a survivor or a monster. Harris Berlinsky, a 20-year Cocteau veteran, plays Goldman, with Christopher Black, Elise Stone, Charles Parnell and Marilyn Bernard also featured.

Designing the show are Adamson (lighting), Robert Klinglehoffer (set) and Margaret McKowen (costumes). Booth opens Jan. 18 and is scheduled to run through March 26.

The play was filmed in 1975 by Arthur Hiller, but Shaw was unhappy with the results and demanded his name be removed from the credits. *

Meanwhile at Cocteau Rep, Seamus Heaney's The Cure At Troy finishes its own extended run Feb. 27. Winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature, Heaney adapted Sophocles' drama, Philoctetes.

Cursed with a wound that gives off an offensive stench, Philoctetes has been exiled to an island. Now, however, Odysseus, the very Greek who exiled him, need his magic archery bow. They must convince an understandably bitter Philoctetes to return with them and lead them to victorious battle.

Heaney has called Troy a "version" of Philoctetes, rather than an adaptation or translation, and according to Jim Pieper of Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, he's added chorus monologues that refer to war (and even, obliquely, to the troubles in Northern Ireland).

Heaney was born in 1939 in Country Derry, Northern Ireland in 1984, he was elected the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard, and served for two years as Professor of Poetry at Oxford University. His works include 11 books of poetry, 2 books of criticism, and one play: The Cure at Troy .

Starring in Troy are Rep vets Craig Smith (Philoctetes) and Elise Stone (Smith's real-life wife), alongside Charles Parnell, Tim Deak, Christopher Black, Tracey Atkins and MaryEllen Taylor. Designing the show are Robert Klingelhoeffer (set), Margaret A. McKowen (costumes) and Brian Aldous (lighting), all of whom worked on last season's Mother Courage. Cocteau Rep's resident composer, Ellen Mandel, will contribute an original score to Troy.

*

Also on tap for the Cocteau Rep season:
The Imaginary Invalid (prev. March 13; opens March 15; Through May 8)
In Moliere's farce, protagonist Argan proves to be "as wealthy as he thinks he is unhealthy," making him the target of charlatans and an avaricious wife. Luckily, Argan's maid is the smartest one in the household.

Cocteau veteran Craig Smith (Tartuffe, What The Butler Saw, Lulu) stars, alongside Mary Ellen Taylor, Tracey Atkins, Charles Parnell, and Smith's real-life wife, Elise Stone. Designing Invalid are Peggy McKowen (set), Jonathan Polgar (lighting) and Patrick Heydenburg (set). Producing artistic director Scott Shattuck directs, with Loi Leabo choreographing.

After Invalid, Shattuck will stage Lanford Wilson's Talley & Son (prev May 22; opens May 24; runs to June 21), in which two family businesses are rocked by scandal. Wilson's other Talley tales were Talley's Folly and The Fifth of July.

Founded in 1971, Jean Cocteau Repertory uses a resident company of actors to bring American and European classics to Off-Broadway. The company is located in the olde-timey Bouwerie Lane Theatre on New York's Lower East Side. For tickets ($20-$29) and information on the season, call (212) 677-0060.

-- By David Lefkowitz

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