Saturday night, we got to go to opening night of Laura Schellhardt‘s The K of D: An Urban Legend at Magic Theatre, and let me tell you, it’s a brilliant way for Loretta Greco to establish that there’s a new Artistic Director in town.
In a speech after the show, Loretta said that she was moved to produce the show (actually not a world premiere but a second production, and we can get into how important that is later) because the script was “muscular and fierce.” I totally agree; this is a killer script.
For me, the important thing is how theatrical the play is. This isn’t something that could be done as a TV show or a screenplay. It’s completely dependent on a theatre, an actor who can play many characters all at once, and an audience who’s leaning in and listening to the gorgeous language and compelling story.
Rebecca Novick directs Maya Lawson (who’s amazing at creating about 17 different, easily recognizable characters with nothing to distinguish them but her voice and body position) — and what I love love love about Rebecca’s direction and Laura’s script is that scenes flow one from another with NO scenery changes.
Look, you know I come from an improv theatre background, so my bias is for improv-style scene changes. I don’t like a play to grind to a halt as lights come down, some guy walks out and moves a couple of chairs and tables around, and lights finally come up to show we’ve moved from a house to a cafe. I like the way we do it in improv (and the way it was done in this show): the actor says, “Let’s go to a cafe,” takes a step forward, and now we’re in a cafe.
In fact, I think every play I’ve ever written has the line “The set should be simple representations with seamless transitions” on the first page. That, to me, is theatre; and the more my mind fills in, the better.
It’s a great night of theatre when you get an epic story and meet a whole bunch of characters — and all you really saw was one actor, one skateboard, one box, and a basically bare stage.