Amy Freed's Raucous Roman Comedy You, Nero Added to Berkeley Rep Season

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14 Jul 2008

Berkeley Repertory Theatre will conclude its 2008-09 season with the world premiere of You, Nero, a new comedy written by Amy Freed and directed by Sharon Ott.



It will play the Thrust Stage May 8-June 21, 2009. Starring Danny Scheie as the preposterous emperor of ancient Rome, You, Nero will be produced in association with South Coast Repertory, where it debuts in January. (The SCR run was announced separately.)

"You, Nero is the perfect way to end the coming year, on a high note of incisive, satiric wit," Berkeley Rep artistic director Tony Taccone said in a July 10 statement. "Modern American life bears a remarkable resemblance to Nero's Rome, and Amy Freed mines the parallels to wonderful comic effect. I've admired her work for quite some time and have been waiting for the right opportunity to introduce her to our audience. Since the show is being staged by Sharon — who makes up for lost time by directing two plays for us this season — it seems like the stars are aligned for this project."

"I've been pining to work at Berkeley Rep since I first started seeing shows there," Freed stated. "I love and admire the theatre. As far as I'm concerned, it's one of the most exciting theatres in the country, and I'm beside myself with jubilation that this day has arrived. The play is a full-throttle comedy that just exploded into my brain. It's great fun for the audience while also saying something that I passionately believe. And I wrote this part with Danny in mind — he's a terrific performer. So to see it come to fruition right here in our community is truly thrilling."

According to the Rep, in Berkeley, CA, "In this new comedy, not only does Nero fiddle while Rome burns, he fills the Coliseum with an incendiary mix of sex and decadence. The egotistical emperor commands a washed-up scribe to create an extravaganza that flatters his regime. But to stage the script he must survive the real spectacle at the palace, where his mother, his mistress, and an entourage of eunuchs play an elaborate game of deceit and seduction. You, Nero is the third collaboration for this talented team: Freed is a Pulitzer Prize-nominee known for hilarious scripts such as The Beard of Avon and Restoration Comedy, both of which enjoyed acclaimed productions under Ott's direction. Now she lets loose the tigers on a crumbling empire obsessed with shallow celebrities, violent sports, and sensational entertainment. When Rome unravels like it's reality TV, everyone wants to get in the emperor's new clothes."

You, Nero was read this year in South Coast Rep's Pacific Playwrights Festival.

For more information, call the box office at (510) 647-2949 or visit berkeleyrep.org.