Tragic Is Comic in Trio of Obscure John Patrick Plays, Suicide, Anyone?, Oct. 5-16 in NYC

News   Tragic Is Comic in Trio of Obscure John Patrick Plays, Suicide, Anyone?, Oct. 5-16 in NYC One of the least funny of human experiences gets comic treatment in a trio of one-acts billed as Suicide, Anyone?, by Pulitzer Prize-winner John Patrick — whose death in 1995 was by his own hand.

Livin' Large Productions, LLC, presents the works Off-Broadway Oct. 5-16 at the Primary Stages Theatre at 354 W. 45th Street (between Eighth and Ninth Avenues) in Manhattan.

Jeffrey Davolt directs the lesser-known one-acts by Patrick, who won a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize for his 1954 play The Teahouse of the August Moon, and also penned The Hasty Heart and the popular Everybody Loves Opal.

The three works — Loyalty, Empathy and Confession — are packaged together by Dramatists Play Service. The first productions were reportedly in 1976 in the Virgin Islands.

The 90-minute experience is "an interesting and fascinating funny look at a subject that you normally don't find very amusing," Davolt told Playbill.com. The Livin' Large partners found the works when examining the Dramatists Play catalog.

Livin' Large production notes indicate the topic "isn't usually a laughing matter, but in three of John Patrick's lesser-known one-acts, attempting to end one's life does have some bright sides — especially when the attempter learns some lessons about living in the process." Working under an Equity mini-contract, the cast includes George Antonopoulos, Victor Barbella, Gregory Patrick Jackson and Lara Anne Slife.

Costumes are designed by Lisa Renee Jordan.

In the curtain raiser, Loyalty, "bachelor architect Chris Carpenter is a nice young man who just wants to get some sleep before a big day at work the next morning. Unfortunately, his bickering married friends Milo and Myrtle are having yet another fight — and keep drawing Chris into the middle of it. Milo is leaving Myrtle because she keeps feeding him Mexican dinners for every meal (she got them on sale); not to mention the fact she keeps practicing ballet in her tutu. Myrtle, on the other hand, who has a dramatic penchant for trying to commit suicide just to attract attention, sees Milo as an insensitive, stingy, selfish bore."

In second piece, Empathy, "we meet Betsy, a 20-something aspiring actress for whom nothing is going right. She has no money, no prospects, no hope, and can't even end it all — though it's not for lack of trying. After breaking the kitchen transom when she tried to hang herself, she's about to try again in a more secure spot, only to be interrupted by an Italian painter who tells her of his loving family, and a young attractive television repair man who's studying to be a doctor. In between veiled comments about death and conversations about the ups, downs and joys of life, Betsy just might find a reason for living."

In Confession, the final story of the evening, "up-and-comer Chandler comes home from a successful business cocktail party, only to find his lover Chuck angrily packing to run home to father. A stay-at-home sort who takes care of the house, Chuck has had it with Chandler's being out for all hours and never calling, especially when he's been slaving over a hot stove making scallopini. (It should be noted that this is the sixth time in five months he has packed to leave. Chuck has also not quite accepted his homosexuality, yet.) As the two men argue, the couple's worldly neighbor, Rita, stops by. Learning what's going on from Chandler, she tells him to attempt to commit suicide with phony pills (something she has done many times in the past) to keep Chuck from leaving."

Show times for Suicide, Anyone? are Tuesday-Friday at 8 PM Saturday at 3 PM & 8 PM, Sunday at 3 PM.

Tickets are $45. For reservations, call (212) 868-4444 or www.smarttix.com.

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Patrick was 90 years old when he killed himself. He was born in 1905. His plays also included Hell Freezes Over (1935), The Willow and I (1942) and The Curious Savage (1950). Screenwriting credits include "Three Coins in the Fountain" (1954), "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing" (1955), "High Society" (1956), "Les Girls" (1957), "Some Came Running" (1958) and "The World of Suzie Wong" (1960).

Jeffrey Davolt is a New York City based director, actor, designer, and stage manager. His most recent directing projects were Star Collector (American Playwrights' Theatre), The Young Playwrights' Showcase (Coterie Theatre), Revenge of the Space Pandas (Theatre for Young America), and the Kansas City AIDSWalk (1997-2001). He is artistic director of Ghostlight Theatre Project and is a graduate of the University of Missouri - Columbia.

Livin' Large Productions, LLC is a premiere New York City-based production company which focuses on film, theatre and television. Visit www.livinlargeproductions.com for more information.