Quotidian’s next production is a double dose of theatre inspired by Anton Chekhov. In Brian Friel’s Afterplay, the Dancing at Lughnasa playwright imagines a meeting between two of Chekhov’s characters. Afterplay will be presented in tandem with A Little Trick, a memory play about lost love adapted from Chekhov’s short story of the same name.
Playing the role of Andrey in Afterplay is David Dubov, who here addresses a unique challenge Friel’s piece presents.
In most plays, actors are moving around a space, embodying a character by using, well, the entire body. The physicality of a role often defines the role itself. After all, who can think of Shakespeare’s Richard III without his deformity:
“I, that am curtail’d of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinish’d, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them…”
The actor that portrays Richard has to use that physicality and, indeed, overcome it to scheme, make love, fight, and die over the entire stage. The physical limitations of the character are integral to the part and, in many ways, lift it to greater heights — while also giving the actor a well-defined starting place on which to build the role.
Needless to say, our little play, which takes place in a small café around an even smaller table, presents a different challenge than Richard III.
When you are working on a piece with just two characters that is about the connections that form between them simply talking and remembering, there is not much call for physical action.
And, in some ways, that is more difficult. All the character work of the play now rests on the voice and the face; in small, upper-body gestures magnified; in conveying the entire emotion of the part with none of the supporting physicality.
My scene partner, Michele Osherow, does this masterfully; her command of the character Sonya conveys every nuance of a life worn down by the constant flow of defeat, sadness and hope. Her expressive eyes and superb voice work effortlessly to bring Sonya up off the words on the page. And I should know — I get to watch every detail!
So, if you really want to see something amazing, truly beautiful, and thrilling, come see two characters sitting and talking.
Quotidian Theatre Company’s production of Afterplay and A Little Trick runs July 20 – August 19. Showtimes are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm, with one added 2pm performance on Saturday, August 18. All performances are held at The Writer’s Center: 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD 20815. There is ample parking across the street (free on weekends), and the theatre is just blocks away from the Bethesda Metro Station on the red line. Tickets are just $25, or $20 for students or seniors, paid for at the door in cash or by check. Call 301.816.1023 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve.