Manhattan Theatre Club is informing potential subscribers that Alan Ayckbourn's House and Garden — to play simultaneously on MTC's Stage I and II — may be part of the eight-play 2001-2002 season.
In a letter to subscribers, artistic director Lynne Meadow and executive producer Barry Grove said they are "looking at" the two comic plays for the coming season, and that the New York premieres would be directed by Daniel Sullivan (Proof).
MTC, the Off-Broadway company devoted to giving voice to new or recent works by established and emerging writers, may also stage Tina Howe's translations of Eugene Ionesco's absurdist works, The Bald Soprano and The Lesson, and the American premiere of Zinnie Harris' Further Than the Furthest Thing, about an island community visited by the outside world. Further was previously seen at London's Royal National Theatre.
As previously announced, Sarah Jessica Parker will star in the New York premiere of David Lindsay Abaire's Wonder of the World, directed by Christopher Ashley, on Stage I. It opens the new season. A spokesman for MTC said the Abaire play is the only work that has been officially announced.
House and Garden was a huge hit earlier this season at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, where the stagings became a sold-out theatrical "event." One play is performed in one venue, and, in a maddening timing and logistics feat, the second play is performed simultaneously in another venue. The actors move from one theatre to the next, but the audience stays put and must attend both plays separately. MTC's stage I is 300 seats and Stage II is 150 seats. In House, according to the MTC brochure, "Teddy Platt is a wealthy industrialist who's in line to become a Member of Parliament. His wife Trish isn't speaking to him because of his multiple infidelities. When Lucille, a French film star, arrives to open the town garden fete — which the Platts are hosting — comic mayhem erupts."
In Garden, according to MTC, "At the town garden fete, Gilles and Joanne Mace — the Platts' neighbors — find their marriage dissolving while two bumbling caterers wreak havoc, a backyard tent collapses and Lucille imbibes a bit too much alcohol."
May 11 is the deadline for subscribers to renew their membership to the hot, nonprofit theatre that originated three shows that moved to Broadway in the last year — Proof, The Tale of the Allergist's Wife and A Class Act. One play in the coming season is expected to be presented at an outside theatre, which is an MTC tradition (King Hedley II is this year's off-site show).
The full season has yet to be solidified and officially announced. For subscriber information, call (212) 399-3030.
— By Kenneth Jones