Take Three: Reza's Spliced Life Opens on Broadway March 31

By Robert Simonson
March 31, 2003

Same four characters. Same basic situation. Three different plays. That's the basic premise of Life x 3, French dramatist Yasmina Reza's new work, which officially opens March 31 at Circle in the Square.

Helen Hunt, John Turturro, Brent Spiner and Linda Emond are the two warring couples (warring with the other marrieds; warring within their own marriages) acting out a trio of versions of the same awful evening. The story begins as Hunt and Turturro are trying out several unsuccessful methods for putting their son to bed. Suddenly, their dinner guests arrive, a renowned scientist (Spiner), whom the insecure Turturro hopes will recommend him for a promotion, and his defeated, dipsomaniacal wife (Emond). One problem — the twosome have shown up 24 hours early!

The unexpected evening then splits into a trio of possible outcomes, all fraught with tension and roiling undercurrents — with a soon-to-be published academic paper, a telephone call, the recalcitrant tot, a store of Cheez-its and Chocolate Fingers, several bottles of white wine and four lifetimes of frustration all playing a part.

Matthew Warchus, who piloted Reza's Art and The Unexpected Man, directs. He told Playbill On-Line the play was about "the fragility of life."

"Every moment we live has many alternatives and all of them seem plausible and possible," Warchus said. "Our life is very fragile. Our destinies are an accumulation of choices and random moments. We can get ourselves into an extreme situation in life by an accumulation of details and some of them are in our control and some are out of our control."

Warchus also said he believed the Broadway production a better realization of the play than the London premiere. "I think I'm digging deeper in this production," he explained. "I think this production has more extremity in it, the comedy is more shrill and the drama is darker. I'm not really sure I mined it for all its potential in London... Another thing different between London and here is we did another round of translating to Americanize it. We reassessed every line. This is so much closer to the French and it's got much more muscularity and the right kind of colloquialisms. I think we're pretty close to the original here."

Since Art, Warchus has scored a hit with True West and a miss with the Broadway revival of Follies. Ron Kastner is producing.

Helen Hunt played Viola in a Lincoln Center Theater production of Twelfth Night—her only major New York theatre credit of recent vintage. "Star Trek" vet Spiner starred on Broadway in the Roundabout Theatre Company's praised production of 1776 several seasons back (opposite Linda Emond, no less). His other theatre credits include Big River and Sunday in the Park with George.

Emond last acted in Homebody/Kabul and Turturro has appeared in such plays as Waiting for Godot and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.

French playwright Reza had a big hit with her first Broadway play, Art, which won a Tony Award for Best Play. Her second New York premiere, The Unexpected Man played Off-Broadway in 2000.

Reza has never lacked for star talent in her works. Art debuted in New York with Victor Garber, Alan Alda and Alfred Molina and proceeded to host a series of boldface casts, as did the original London production. Unexpected Man, meanwhile, starred Eileen Atkins and Alan Bates.

For tickets to Life x 3, call (212) 239-6200.