When actor Josh Radnor (Disgraced) sat down to write Sacred Valley it started as a screenplay. Except there was a problem. “I didn’t find it to be all that cinematic,” he says. “Once I decided it was a play, it kind of opened up for me.”
Now his play will hit the Mainstage of Vassar & New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theater beginning June 29. A story about the deep truths of friendship, Natalie and Narby are best friends. But when Narby takes Natalie’s husband, Brian, on his first mushroom trip, Brian leaves Natalie and the friends are left to deal with the fallout.
“Sacred Valley is the best thing he’s ever written,” says actor Abigail Spencer of her playwright and longtime friend. (The two actually met on a reading during the week Radnor found out he’d landed a role in a new pilot—a sitcom called How I Met Your Mother). “[The play] talks about a woman who does have a male best friend and a husband and what that’s like,” she says. “That’s a very real thing—how to integrate and blend those friendships.”
Actor Michael Chernus, who plays Narby to Spencer’s Natalie, agrees that Radnor’s dialogue as well as the story’s themes feel authentic. “He has such a great sense of rhythm and timing that I’m sure comes from his experience onstage and in front of the camera,” says Chernus of his playwright and friend. “Writers should be required to act a little bit,” says Radnor. “I picture myself in each part. I’ve been an actor for so long, I’m very sensitive as to what is playable and what is not. I try to write pieces that actors will get super excited to do and very active that give them a lot of range to explore things.”
Judging by the looks on Chernus and Spencer’s faces, mission accomplished.