The so-called "solo show with other people" extended to May 16 at The Public's Martinson Hall following a handful of enthusiastic reviews and award nominations. Since beginning March 16 (and opening March 28), Well got a money notice from Ben Brantley of The New York Times, and others, and received a Drama Desk Award nomination (Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play, Jayne Houdyshell); two Lucille Lortel Award nominations (Outstanding Lead Actress, Jayne Houdyshell; Outstanding Lighting Design, Christopher Akerlind), and two Outer Critics Circle Award nominations (Outstanding Off-Broadway Play; Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play, Jayne Houdyshell).
Houdyshell plays the lumpy, fatigued mother character, Ann, to a hyper-verbal theatre artist named "Lisa Kron" (played by Lisa Kron), who tells the story of her mother's mysterious lifelong illness and how her mom, through it all, was able to racially integrate their neighborhood in Lansing, Michigan in the late 1960s and '70s.
The comic and searching work has the mother spoiling the play through her inability to grasp the rules of the stage, thwarting Lisa Kron's plan keep the narrative flowing.
Audiences have laughed and cried through the experience, which observers say is really about a daughter character seeking to integrate and reconcile her adult self with her childhood self — reaching for peace with the mother she cannot fully understand.
* Kron, the actress-playwright known for her solo show 2.5 Minute Ride (about her father) injects other actors and characters in her latest work.
Considering Well has minimal scenic issues (it's not a special-effects play) and a economic cast of six, one can't help but wonder if there is a larger commercial life in the play. The New York Times, Newsday and Associated Press embraced the work as a moving, highly-theatrical, funny and self-conscious character study.
In a piece that monologuist Kron admits is bursting with "meta-theatre" elements — with consistent fourth-wall breaking moments — the added cast of characters threaten to dismantle her storytelling experience altogether.
The play has been in development around the country for several years.
Directed by Leigh Silverman, the intermissionless Well explores "the dynamics of health, family and community with the story of her mother's extraordinary ability to heal a changing neighborhood, despite her inability to heal herself." In this "solo show with other people in it, Kron asks the provocative question: Are we responsible for our own illnesses? But the answers she gets are much more complicated than she bargained for when the play spins dangerously out of control into riotously funny and unexpected territory."
The cast includes Kenajuan Bentley, Saidah Arrika Ekulona, Joel Van Liew and Welker White.
Designers include set designer Allen Moyer (recreating a section of the Kron family household in Lansing, Michigan), costume designer Miranda Hoffman, lighting designer Christopher Akerlind and sound designer Jill BC DuBoff.
The Public Theater is located in Manhattan at 425 Lafayette Street. Tickets are available at the theatre's box office or by calling (212) 239-6200. For more information, visit the Public Theater at www.publictheater.org.