Heather Graham (of the film, "Boogie Nights") plays Waverly Wilson, a Minneapolis woman who goes through with a blind date on Sept. 12, 2001, despite the fact that her New Yorker sister cannot be found. The play is billed as "a surprising, absurdly funny and intensely moving play about fate, free will and facing tragedy," and concerns Waverly's fear that her sister might be a victim of the World Trade Center attacks.
The play has the ideas of the interconnectedness of lives, free will and chance on its mind. Playwright Wright is also interested in shaking up the audience's expectations of role playing and the theatrical ritual.
Michael John Garcés directs the New York premiere, with a company that includes Hamish Linklater (as the blind date), Jesse J. Perez (as Ron, an obnoxious neighbor friend of Waverly) and Colleen Werthmann (doubling as the neighbor's girlfriend and Waverly's aunt, Joyce Carol Oates, who is represented as a sock puppet to discuss free will and other ideas with the characters). Kalimi A. Baxter serves as Stage Manager and appears on stage in a work that is much more stylized and theatrical than its premise would suggest.
Performances continue to Oct. 12 at Playwrights Horizons' Mainstage Theatre, 416 W. 42nd Street.
The play had a previous run at The Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, DC in September 2002. For it, Craig Wright (The Pavilion) received a Helen Hayes Award nomination for Outstanding New Play and the 2003 Steinberg New Play Commemorative Citation from the American Theatre Critics Association. His other plays include Main Street, Molly's Delicious and Orange Flower Water (seen at the Jungle Theatre and CATF, to be staged by Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago). Wright holds a master of divinity degree from United Theological Seminary and lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. Designers are Adam Stockhausen (scenic), Elizabeth Hope Clancy (costume), Kirk Bookman (lighting) and original music and sound design by Scott Myers.
Off-Broadway has addressed 9/11 before, with Neil LaBute's The Mercy Seat, about an extramarital affair in downtown Manhattan on and after 9/11. This fall, the new play, Portraits, addresses responses to the tragedy from varied points of view, playing the Union Square Theatre. Meanwhile, at Variety Arts Theatre, Omnium Gatherum makes direct references to the terrorist attacks and includes one victim and one terrorist as characters in the work.
For more information, call (212) 279-4200 or visit www.playwrightshorizons.org.
The Alley Theatre in Houston offers a separate production of Recent Tragic Events Oct. 1-26, directed by Rob Bundy.