At the Theatre

In the past I’ve extolled the virtues of living in Fairfield. Well, let me tell you about how cool it is to have Westport as a neighbor. It’s upscale with loads of celebrities who live here in relative anonymity, although thankfully Martha’s not around to be annoying anymore. There’s a ton of shopping, again, all upscale and we generally skip this part of it. In fact, we rarely come to Westport.

But…

When we do, it’s more often than not to attend a production at the Westport Country Playhouse. The Playhouse dates back to the early 20th century and has been the location for many fine performances from many living legends of the stage, both early and late in their careers.

The Playhouse just completed an massive renovation and we were curious to check it out and see what’s been done. With my Mom in town, it seemed like a good time to go see a play. On Saturday, we headed over to catch an afternoon performance of Dear Brutus, a 1917 play written by one J.M. Barrie.

The Playhouse looks the same but if you look closely you see changes. Beyond the fresh pant, there is upgraded lighting, new seating, concessions in the new lobby, better traffic flow to and from the ticket windows and so on. It hasn’t lost any of its charm. One entire wall is filled with posters for various productions dating back to what feels like the days of antiquity. Mom gazed at the names, some she hadn’t seen since she was a kid.

The play itself was quite engaging and ups my respect for Barrie as a playwright since all I know him for is…you-know-what. The choice made given newfound notice for his life after the charming . Told in three acts, it’s essentially the story of relatively unhappy people brought to the home of a man they barely know. The man, Lob, offers them a second chance, and through theatrical means, gets them to an enchanted forest. In act two, we see what their lives might be or could have been. In act three it all comes together with a haunting final image. The staging was spot-on, humorous at times and intriguing the rest of the time.

The cast is made up of stage veterans all of whom have impressive credits. To me, though, the most noteworthy member of the ensemble was Simon Jones, the original BBC incarnation of Arthur Dent. Jones looked older but was exactly the same, entertaining man. I had the fortune to interview him for Starlog some 23 years ago so that was very neat.

With the renovations, the Playhouse is now ready to grow and they will begin year-round programming starting this winter with a three-show package. Deb and I will be subscribing.

One comment

  • David K. M. Klaus

    If you don’t mind my asking, given that there was a tenuous previous relationship of sorts, did you attempt to speak with Mr. Jones after the show? (If for no other reason than to compliment his performance.)