Spokane can’t get enough of playwright A.R. Gurney, which seems to be an odd match.
Gurney specializes in the dissection of the patrician Eastern blueblood, a species that doesn’t seem particularly populous in these parts. However, Gurney’s popularity stems less from his subject matter and more from his uncommon intelligence, literacy and wit.
Four Gurney plays have appeared in Spokane in the last few years: “Love Letters,” “Another Antigone,” “What I Did Last Summer” and “Richard Cory,” currently on stage at the Studio Theatre.
“The Cocktail Hour,” which opens tonight at Interplayers, is considered one of Gurney’s best. It is also one of his more recent plays, having opened off-Broadway in 1988.
“The Cocktail Hour” is about a playwright who has traveled to his parents’ house to ask their permission to proceed with an inflammatory, autobiographical play. The quite-proper parents don’t go in for that kind of wrenching psychodrama, not on stage and not in real life.
“Mr. Gurney still has new and witty observations to make about a nearly extinct patrician class that regards psychiatry as an affront to good manners, underpaid hired help as a birthright and the selling of blue-chip stocks as a first step toward Marxism,” wrote critic Frank Rich of The New York Times.
Rich also said that “the laughter in Act I is almost continuous.” The second act takes a more serious turn, as the playwright son engages in a series of confrontations.
The parents will be played by Bob and Joan Welch, the two artistic codirectors of Interplayers. The playwright son will be played by William Westenberg, and the daughter will be played by Christina Lang.
“The Cocktail Hour” will run through April 8. For tickets call 455-PLAY.
If the World Festival of Amateur Theatre is like the Olympics, then “Kaleidoscope ‘95” is the Olympic trials.
“Kaleidoscope ‘95” is the Washington State Community Theater Festival Competition. Eight theaters from across the state will be presenting one-hour plays beginning today at 5 p.m. and continuing Saturday afternoon and evening. All plays will be staged at this year’s host theater, the Spokane Civic Theatre, and the public is invited to attend.
Here’s the play schedule:
“The Boys Next Door,” Spokane Civic Theatre, 5 p.m. today.
“And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little,” Valley Repertory Theatre, 6:40 p.m. today.
“The Lion in Winter,” Little Theatre of Walla Walla, 8:20 p.m. today.
“Love Letters,” Roundabout Theatre Arts, 10 p.m. today.
“Plaza Suite,” Rogue Players, 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
“The Kingfisher,” Anacortes Community Theatre, 5:10 p.m. Saturday.
“Twenty-Seven Wagons Full of Cotton,” Richland Players Inc., 8 p.m. Saturday.
“Come Into the Garden, Maud,” Bremerton Community Theatre, 9:40 p.m. Saturday.
All performances will be followed by adjudications. The judges will announce the winner between 11:30 p.m. and 1 a.m. The winning play will be repeated at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.
Tickets are $8 for Friday’s or Saturday’s plays, $15 for a FridaySaturday combo or $20 for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There are also a number of workshops in conjunction with the festival. Call 325-2507 for tickets, reservations and information.
The state winner will be eligible for the regional title. The winner of the regional goes to the national festival, and the winners of the national can go to the World Festival of Amateur Theatre.
Sound like a long shot? In 1989, the Spokane Civic Theatre went all the way to the World Festival.