Tony and Academy Award-winning actress Mercedes Ruehl and two-time Emmy winner and Tony nominee Larry Bryggman (Proof, "As the World Turns") star in the play about sculptor Nevelson, who tells her life story to a well-dressed reporter; their chat is conducted after her death. Swathed in robes and chunky jewelry, Ruehl ("The Fisher King," Lost in Yonkers) seemed to slip into the skin of complicated, committed, fierce and defensive Nevelson, whose sclupture is revealed at the end of the two-act play.
Directed by Pam MacKinnon, Edward Albee's Occupant opened June 5 at Signature's home at The Peter Norton Space, at 555 West 42nd Street (between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues). Two weeks (July 1-13) were added to the run.
Edward Albee's Occupant, according to Signature, "is a portrait of acclaimed sculptor Louise Nevelson and a quest to capture a charismatic and complex artist and persona. What is the relationship between creator and creation? Who was Louise Nevelson? Only she knew."
Critics have pointed out that the bio play fits into Pulitzer Prize winner Albee's canon by touching on identity, parents, mortality and storytelling — ideas explored in works throughout Albee's career. His plays include Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, A Delicate Balance, Three Tall Women, Seascape, The Play About the Baby, The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? and more.
Occupant sets are designed by Christine Jones, costumes are by Jane Greenwood and lights are by David Lander. The production caps off Signature's 2007-2008 season. It was billed as a Legacy Production as part of its Premiere Series, which presents new work by former Signature Playwrights-in-Residence. The Off-Broadway not-for-profit is known for devoting entire seasons to a single writer. (In 2008-09 the season is dedicated to a single organization — The Negro Ensemble Company — and plays that it launched.)