Keeping Mum: The Cast of Relatively Speaking Withholds the Surprises and Secrets

By Harry Haun
19 Oct 2011

Danny Hoch
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Veteran actress Patricia O'Connell conceded she's a mother in May's play. "The thing is" — wait for it — "I can't say too much about it because in a way the character's a bit of a surprise in the ending. But she's called in the cast list 'The Old Woman,' and she's very interesting but she's quite strong, which you realize when she comes on stage. She is talked about throughout the play and then comes on toward the end."

Broadway-debuting Katherine Borowitz, who's married to the play's director (John Turturro) and clearly knows what's going on, threw only a bone to reporters: "I am the woman in Ethan Coen's play, Talking Cure — and I think I can tell you I'm a pregnant woman in this play. I'm the only woman in it." (We'd have figured it out.)

Her co-star, Danny Hoch, walked on eggs as well: "I'm in Ethan Coen's play, and I play a — I'll just say I'm the acquaintance of a doctor. If I say anything more, it'll ruin everything. I'll leave it mysterious like that. In Woody's play, I deliver things . . ."

The most worked actor in the show is Murphy Brown's Miles Silverberg — Grant Shaud, who's busy one way or another in all three plays. Doing what, you ask? "I play — y'know, I'll just generalize — sort of a best friend in the Woody play. In Elaine's, I play a husband, and in Ethan's I'm understudying the lead."

Grant Shaud
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Because of his high-profiled television detours, it has taken Shaud a quarter of a century to get back to Broadway. "I was in Torch Song Trilogy 25 years ago, understudying the roles of David and Alan, and I got to go on quite a bit," he recalled. "It was actually my first acting job. I started on Broadway and fell downward — but I've gotten to work with some of the best playwrights going. I got to work with Kenny Lonergan and John Patrick Shanley and Chris Durang and Woody Allen — in Writer's Block, down at the Atlantic Theatre Company eight years ago.

"You don't pass up a chance to work with Woody Allen. You know, he's kind of a genius. It's a great experience. He's always looking for where maybe he might be able to take a word out of a sentence to make it tighter. He's sort of a real technician. He wrote the music so he knows where all the notes are, and he can point out to you if you're missing one. He's phenomenal. I'm thrilled beyond belief to be in this."

Like Hoch and Shaud, Jason Kravits finds himself double-cast in the show — both times as a psychiatrist, but from different schools. "I have to change it up a little bit," Kravits confessed. "In Woody Allen's — as you can imagine — the psychiatrist is very Freudian. Everything is Freud-based. He quotes Freud. He loves Freud. He idolizes Freud. And in the Ethan Coen play, he's much more of a friendly psychiatrist who just wants you to talk and get your feelings out. He's much more touchy-feely. I'm usually the one who's sorting out the relatives. I'll put it this way: These relatives are crazy enough that they need two psychiatrists in at least two of the three plays."

Relatively Speaking actors not spoken to for this article include Lisa Emery and Richard Libertini. What could they possibly not add?