The New York premiere of Lauren Yee's drama, currently playing at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, follows a young woman after she and her boyfriend move in together and struggle to create a new home. As she tries to become comfortable in the apartment, the walls begin talking to her, revealing the tale of previous tenants, a hatmaker and his long-suffering wife. Tired of feeling taken for granted, the wife runs away with her husband's favorite hat.
Directed by Rachel Chavkin, The Hatmaker's Wife features Margulies as Hetchman, the titular character, while Friedman plays his best friend, Meckel.
Margulies, whose numerous stage credits include Wonderful Town, Angels in America, Brighton Beach Memoirs and The Iceman Cometh, was drawn to Yee's original approach to storytelling. "Maybe there's nothing quite like it," he said. "She thinks in a most personal, fantastic and yet deeply emotional way about life. And yet, it's a comedy and it moves in and out of different kinds of realities."
"I love the fable quality of it, the gentle quality of it and the sad quality of it — and the silliness of it," Friedman, a Tony nominee for his role in Ragtime who has also performed in Twelve Angry Men, The Heidi Chronicles and Piaf, said. Describing the play as "whimsical," he added, "It's a style of play that I hadn't done very much of."
Margulies and Friedman, whose characters in The Hatmaker's Wife are best friends, have known each other for years and also shared the stage in After the Revolution at Playwrights Horizons. It wasn't difficult for the two actors to build rapport onstage, playing long-time friends, a fact that they credited to the nature of the business offstage.
"That's one of the great things about the New York community. A lot of us know each other," Margulies said. "So the foundation is actually knowing that there is a past history. You're basing it on a kind of association and even a kind of style."
"You keep building family after family," Friedman said of the relationships formed offstage. "It's wonderful as it happens and sad when it's the end of the run. Nowadays, I keep in touch with people. Everybody is so intent on the work and loving what they're doing." Friedman spoke highly of his fellow actors, saying, "I can't remember the last jerk I worked with. It's been over a decade!"
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