Eastern standard

AUG 6 - 20.30 pm

Eastern Standard is set in 1987 Manhattan, and deals with all the flashpoints therein--yuppies, AIDS, the stock market, trendy restaurants, homelessness, and urban malaise. The first act is set in one of those uber-trendy restaurants, with a relentlessly black-and-white motif and grouper tortellini as the lunch special. Stephen, a disenchanted architect, is lunching with his gay friend Drew. At the next table, Phoebe finds out her gay brother Peter has AIDS. Then a strident homeless lady causes a scene, and the four find themselves thrown together in an odd way.

During the second act, at Stephen's house in the Hamptons, the two new couples try to find a way to interact. It's not easy. Everyone is nursing wounds, and they are all distant and cautious, though the mutual attraction is evident. Phoebe and Stephen are in love, though Phoebe's ex is causing some problems, and Peter refuses to let Drew get close because he doesn't want his secret revealed. Drew, of course, only thinks Peter is being aloof, and so feels hurt and bitter. As Stephen tells him, "Your irony keeps you inert." The flaky waitress and the homeless lady from Act One return, forcing everyone to reevaluate their priorities.

This is s witty, incisive writing, everything we've come to expect from Greenberg. The characters are delicately drawn, rather like Fitzgerald's characters, and the story has a graceful arc. The most interesting relationship is between Drew and Peter since the straight couple lacks sparkle.

The acting, while earnest, is tame; Stephen, played by Jack Reiling, and Phoebe, by Michelle Bagwell, have no real chemistry. Part of that could have something to do with the direction, which seemed less concerned with the story than with the set which is designed with care but involves some overly long and complicated changes.

While the production itself starts off slowly, it picks up steam as the actors warm up, making for a much more exciting second act. Shane Jacobsen and Jason Salmon put in a memorable performance as Drew and Peter, the doomed lovers, and Andrea Marshall-Money as the homeless woman, May, is simultaneously hilarious and disturbing. Greenberg fans shouldn't miss this one.

The North Bay Theatre Group started in June of 2002. Originally formed to talk about creating a New Drama Works Festival throughout Sonoma Countyand other possible cooperative ventures, the attendees were representatives Sonoma County Rep, Cinnabar Theater, Actors Theatre, Santa Rosa Players, Pacific Alliance Stage Company and Pegasus Theater.

The group was brought together by John Moran and Larry Carlin, both of Sonoma County Rep. Soon the conversation, held in a property developer's office in downtown Santa Rosa, turned into a fully fledged discussion of ways to make live theatre stronger and to make the public more aware of what was on offer in the county.

The New Drama Works Festival became a reality and was held in 2003 with much success. But the focus soon shifted to promotional and networking ties to bind the core group closer together. It was decided to meet regularly, to exchange news, offer help to each other and help those who were unable to advertise in the local press the ability to do so through a coop ad. That ad became a reality in 2003 with the first combined advertising for live theatre ever. The combo ad ran in the Bohemian for two years and is now running in the Press Democrat.

NBTG presently comprises some 42 companies and individuals who produce live theatre or are involved with the production of theatre in the the five counties of the North Bay: Lake, Mendocino, Marin, Napa and Sonoma. Apart from combined advertising and close networking, NBTG offers a two for one card called THE THEATRE EXPRESS CARD which is sold to the public for $29 (The original number of member theatres at the time). The holder of the card may see a production at half price. Though not a money maker for NBTG, it encourages the public to see as many different productions by different member theatres as they can in a year for a radically ridiculous price!

The concept of NBTG has always been that, no matter how big or small, we are all pulling in the same direction and all have equal sway in how we proceed. NBTG does NOT mandate how its membership should conduct their business either artistically or administratively. We are our membership.

Richard Greenberg (1958-) is a Tony Award winning American playwright. He is the author of over 25 plays including seven South Coast Repertory world premieres: The Injured Party, The Violet Hour, Everett Beekin, Hurrah at Last, Three Days of Rain (Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, Pulitzer Prize finalist, Olivier, Drama Desk and Hull-Warriner nominations), Night and Her Stars and The Extra Man. His play, Take Me Out, traveled from London to New York in the first co-production of the Donmar Warehouse and The Public Theater, and transferred to Broadway in early 2003 where it won the Tony Award for Best Play. His other plays include The Dazzle (Outer Critics Circle Award, Lucille Lortel and John Gassner nominations), The American Plan, Life Under Water and The Author’s Voice. Recently, his adaptation of August Strindberg’s Dance of Death could be seen on Broadway, starring Ian McKellen, Helen Mirren and David Strathairn. He is a winner of the Oppenheimer Award and the first winner of the PEN/Laura Pels Award for a playwright in mid-career.

Richard Greenberg grew up in East Meadow, New York, a middle-class Long Island town in Nassau County, east of New York City. He graduated from East Meadow High School in 1976. Greenberg graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University, attended Harvard for graduate work in English, and was accepted into Yale's playwriting program. (New York Times, by Alex Witchel, March 26, 2006, Magazine Section 6, p. 47)



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