The New Group's Staging of Aunt Dan and Lemon Hatches Anew at Acorn, Jan. 13

News   The New Group's Staging of Aunt Dan and Lemon Hatches Anew at Acorn, Jan. 13 The Off-Broadway revival of Wallace Shawn's Aunt Dan and Lemon, which opened Dec. 18 at the Harold Clurman Theatre, begins its extended run at the Acorn Theatre, Jan. 13.
Kristen Johnston (left) and Lili Taylor
Kristen Johnston (left) and Lili Taylor Photo by Carol Rosegg

Shawn's best-known play, which began previews Dec. 9, 2003, and opened Dec. 18, transfers to the larger Acorn (in the same complex) following positive response to the staging directed by The New Group artistic director Scott Elliott. The limited run — originally slated through Jan. 31 — will now end March 27.

Kristen Johnston (The Women) and Lili Taylor (Three Sisters) star in the title roles (respectively) of Aunt Dan and Lemon. The play is set in London and centers on the relationship formed between the young, sickly Lemon (short for Leonora) and the brutally candid, Kissinger-worshipping Aunt Dan (short for Danielle) — a close friend of her parents. Through a combination of scenes and politically horrifying but hilarious monologues, Shawn trains a magnifying glass on civilized society and the uncivilized things it tacitly permits its leaders to do, so that its comforts may be kept in place.

Melissa Errico (Amour) is also featured in the cast, which includes Marcia Stephanie Blake (The Crucible), Liam Craig (Don Juan), Isaach de Bankolé, Carlos Leon, Emily Cass McDonnell (Shoppers Carried by Escalators into the Flames), Brooke Sunny Moriber (Follies), Maulik Pancholy, Stephen Park (The Karaoke Show) and Bill Sage.

The design team for Aunt Dan and Lemon features Derek McLane (set), Jason Lyons (lighting), Eric Becker (costume) and Ken Travis (sound). Stephen Gabis serves as dialect coach and Vanda Jamison handles props.

The 1985 New York premiere at the Public Theater starred Kathryn Pogson as Lemon, Linda Hunt as Dan, longtime Shawn collaborator Larry Pine and Shawn himself. Shawn's other works include Marie and Bruce — his screen adaptation starring Matthew Broderick will soon debut at the Sundance Film Festival — and The Designated Mourner, given a New York production a few seasons back with Shawn and Pine in the cast. Shawn is also at work on an adaptation of Threepenny Opera for the Roundabout Theatre Company.

The New Group will next present the world premiere of Betty Shamieh's Roar directed by Marion McClinton (King Hedley II, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom) in March 2004. Roar explores the disrupted lives of a Palestinian-American family living in Detroit when a Kuwaiti relative is exiled and arrives at their home. The work is set following the first Gulf War. A third play will be announced at a later date.

The New Group makes its new home at the renovated Theatre Row, 410 West 42 St., this season. For tickets, call (212) 239-6200. For more information, visit www.thenewgroup.org.