Orson's Shadow began its New York premiere on March 1 and opened on March 13 to good reviews. The play concerns the 1960 London premiere of Ionesco's Rhinoceros, which starred Laurence Olivier and was directed by Orson Welles. At the time, Olivier was going through a nasty divorce from his second wife, actress Vivien Leigh, who named actress (and, from 1961, Olivier's third wife) Joan Plowright as co-respondent in her divorce filing. Kenneth Tynan was London's leading dramatic critic and all around enfant terrible, a friend of both Welles and Olivier (he would co-found the Royal National Theatre with Oliver in 1963), and a frequent sparring partner of Ionesco's. All five famous figures are featured in the drama.
The play had its premiere in 2000 at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, where it was a critical success and extended its run. A mounting at the Williamstown Theatre Festival followed that summer, leading to a production at the Westport Country Playhouse. The latter was less successful critically, though the cast and director where the same as in Chicago. A 2001 Los Angeles production fared better, extending its run and picking of a L.A. Critics Circle Award for Best Production.
David Cromer directs. Set design is by Takeshi Kata, costume design by Theresa Squire, lighting design by Tyler Micoleau and sound by Jonah Lawrence.
Producing are Planetearth Partners, Inc. and Scott Morfee, the team behind the hit Off Broadway production of Bug.
Pendleton actually worked with Orson Welles in the film "Catch 22," in which he played the wimpy son of Welles' tyrannical general. Orson's Shadow plays the Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow at Seventh Avenue South. Tickets for the production are priced $55 and are available by calling (212) 239 6200. For more information visit www.OrsonThePlay.com.