Mercy of a Storm, a new play by Jeffrey Hatcher, will premiere at the theatre that commissioned it: City Theatre in Pittsburgh, PA, April 11-May 5.
Veteran actor Frank Converse will star in the two-actor drama of a recently-married — and even more-recently separated — couple trying to figure out where they went wrong. The setting is a glimmering country-club pool house, into which the couple have wandered, seeking refuge from a 1945 New Year's Eve party. Chandler Vinton is the wife.
Richard Corley directs the piece as part of City Theatre's New Works On Stage program, in the 272-seat mainstage space.
Outdoors, a snow storm is raging. Indoors, the light shimmers in ripples from the pool, and strains of an orchestra playing American pop glide in.
The new play, opening April 17 following previews, is billed as "romantic yet painful, funny yet bitter, stylish and poignant" as it "skillfully negotiates the complex emotions that drive any passionate, but unlikely, romance." Mercy of a Storm marks Hatcher's first return to the City Theatre stage since the award-winning Compleat Female Stage Beauty in 1999. "It's great to be back at City Theatre," Hatcher said in a statement. "It was of such huge importance in getting Compleat Female Stage Beauty going, and now I hope the same will happen with Mercy of a Storm."
"Stylistically," according to production notes, "the look and sound of Mercy of a Storm bring to mind the cinema of the 1940s." Director Corley compares the play to "a beautiful black-and-white romantic mystery, the kind of film that Barbara Stanwyck would've been in with Fred McMurray." Class is a central obstacles between the lovers.
Hatcher is originally from Steubenville, PA, and set the play "in a town near Pittsburgh at the zenith of the post-World War II boom." In Mercy of a Storm, Converse plays a rich and orderly middle-aged man who probably shouldn't have married the younger, more brash, more middle-class Zanovia.
Other Hatcher works include Compleat Female Stage Beauty, Three Viewings, Sockdology and Scotland Road. Converse appeared on Broadway in The Philadelphia Story and A Streetcar Named Desire, and recently in Lee Blessing's Thief River at Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre.
Designers are Tony Ferrieri (set), Elizabeth Atkinson (sound), Jeff Nellis (lighting) and Lorraine Venberg (costume).
For tickets ($21-$32) and information on Mercy of a Storm at City Theatre call (412) 431-CITY.
— By Kenneth Jones
and David Lefkowitz