As Michigan-raised Kron narrates her frisky meta-theatrical comedy, her mother, Ann, gets in the way of the narrative goals. It's Lisa's own fault, of course: In wishing to tell the story her way, she enlists a troupe of actors (Daniel Breaker, Saidah Arrika Ekulona, John Hoffman and Christina Kirk) and her lumpy, lethargic housewife mother (played by Jayne Houdyshell) to help convey this theatrical exploration of health, race, childhood and more.
Lisa's La-Z-Boy-bound mom is so charming, sympathetic, and interruptive, however, that the players end up bonding with her, threatening not just monologist Kron's train of thought, but the entire production. (That's what you get for bending rules, breaking the fourth wall and experimenting. The lesson to be learned might be, "never invite your mother on the stage with you.")
Previews began at the Longacre Theatre March 10. The real Ann Kron will be in the audience for her daughter's opening night performance.
Leigh Silverman (Off-Broadway's Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Jump/Cut, Oedipus at Palm Springs) directs Well at the Longacre Theatre, as she has previous engagements of the presentational, highly theatrical work — a seriocomic investigation about wellness and the mystery of parent/adult child relationships. Well is produced by Elizabeth Ireland McCann, Scott Rudin, Boyett Ostar Productions, True Love Productions, Terry Allen Kramer, Roger Berlind, Carole Shorenstein Hays, John Dias, Joey Parnes (executive producer) in association with Larry Hirschhorn and The Public Theater and The American Conservatory Theatre.
OBIE Award winners Lisa Kron and Jayne Houdyshell reprise the roles they created when Well had its premiere at The Public Theater in 2004. They played a subsequent 2005 run at American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco.
According to the producers, "Well opens with Lisa Kron's mother sitting on a La-Z-Boy recliner in the middle of the stage. As the play goes on to deal with Kron's personal experiences of healing, a comedic coup d'état breaks out. The actors critique the script, her memories conflict with her flashbacks, her mother interrupts with her own opinions, and Kron finds herself in danger of losing control. The result is a hilarious and brazen piece that questions our thoughts on the conventions of both theatre and wellness."
The Well creative team also includes Tony Walton (scenic design), Miranda Hoffman (costume design), Christopher Akerlind (lighting design), John Gromada (original music and sound design), Tom Watson (hair and wig design), Susie Cordon (production stage manager) and Allison Sommer (stage manager).
Cindy Katz, Randy Danson, Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Colman Domingo and Joel Van Liew are also part of the company.
The earlier Off-Broadway production garnered Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, and Outer Critics Circle nominations and an OBIE award for Jayne Houdyshell's work as Kron's mother.
Daniel Breaker's theatre credits include Fabulation at Playwrights Horizons; A Midsummer Night's Dream, Silent Woman, The Rivals and The Tempest at The Shakespeare Theatre. Saidah Arrika Ekulona performed in Well at the Public Theater. Other Off-Broadway credits include Fabulation at Playwrights Horizons. John Hoffman is best known on the stage for his play Northern Lights, which became a made-for-cable film in which he starred with Diane Keaton. He directed Lisa Kron's 101 Humiliating Stories for a night at Lincoln Center and a run at The New York Theater Workshop. Christina Kirk has appeared in [sic] for Soho Rep, Worldly Acts (Urban Empire), Stage Door (HERE), and David Auburn's Fifth Planet (New York Stage and Film Workshop).
The Longacre Theatre is at 220 W. 48th Street.
After the March 30 opening, Well will play the following schedule: Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 PM, Thursday-Saturday at 8 PM, Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM, Sunday at 3 PM.
Tickets are on sale via Telecharge.com at (212) 239-6200. Ticket prices range $25-$85.
Why is the play called Well?
It's introduced as wanting to be about the nature being "well," but as she explores the history of her own past illnesses — which were apparently allergies — Kron creates a vivid portrait of her mother who (despite health issues) helped bring smooth social change to their neighborhood in Lansing, MI (the neighborhood was a model of racial integration for its time).
Some observed that Well was a unique view of the mysterious nature of parent-child relationships, and about the uncomfortable challenge of integrating parents into one's own life.
Playwright-performer Kron has also penned 2.5 Minute Ride and 101 Humiliating Stories. As an actress, she has appeared in The Vagina Monologues and The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told.
As part of the theatre group The Five Lesbian Brothers, Kron appeared in Oedipus at Palm Springs at New York Theatre Workshop.
Well was developed with the assistance of the Sundance Institute Theatre Laboratory.