New Yorkers who missed Wallace Shawn's The Designated Mourner during its sold-out run in summer 2000 can now get to hear what they didn't see. On Jan.13, 8-11 PM, WNYC (820 AM, 93.9 FM) will broadcast a radio version of the piece, featuring its Off-Off-Broadway cast and again directed by Andre Gregory.
Essentially sold out before it even opened, The Designated Mourner ended its scheduled two-and-a-half month run July 15, 2000 in lower Manhattan. The well-received Shawn drama, which began performances May 1 of that year, played in a 30-seat theatre — a former men's club — on South William Street.
Shawn, who was featured in the films "The Princess Bride" and "Clueless" and argued so memorably with Andre Gregory in "My Dinner With Andre," is nearly as prolific a playwright as he is an actor. His oft-staged Marie And Bruce, as well as A Thought In Three Parts, Aunt Dan and Lemon and translation of Machiavelli's The Mandrake all played at NYC's Public Theatre, and his The Hotel Play was staged at La MaMa in 1981.
The aforementioned Gregory directed Mourner, which stars Shawn, Larry Pine and Deborah Eisenberg. The radio version is being produced by Curtis Fox, with sound effects and design by Bruce Odland, according to WNYC spokesperson Stacy Anne Laufer.
The piece was first produced in 1996 at England's Royal National Theatre as a tour de force return to acting for Mike Nichols. Mourner had its American premiere in 1997 at Chicago's Steppenwolf Studio Theatre. David Hare directed the 1997 film version, starring Nichols and Miranda Richardson. The Designated Mourner, about a future where all the ideals of art and culture are destroyed, is a la Brian Friel, a series of monologues. The piece is set in a fictional future in which intellectuals are rounded up and executed. Those include Jack, his wife Judy, and father-in-law Howard.
For information on The Designated Mourner check out www.wnyc.org, which does allow surfers to listen live on the web.
--By David Lefkowitz