I Will Look Forward to this Later
New Ohio Theatre presents The Assembly production
April 9, 2016
At the beginning of I Will Look Forward to this Later, (a title the author should consider revising as it’s hard to remember and doesn’t connect with the work), a famous writer is being interviewed on the radio. The end of the play finds one of his sons, also a writer, doing the same thing. In between we watch the writer (well, his ghost), his wife (now his widow), both their sons, an older woman who has had a major career as a sculptor and a young woman as their lives intertwine in some not-so-obvious ways. The writer, who apparently had sex with any woman he fancied whenever the spirit took him, had sexual relationships with the sculptor, Miranda, the young woman, the boys’ nanny and probably others. Miranda, a wannabe artist, now works both for the sculptor as an assistant and for the widow who is attempting to sort her husband’s papers. Everyone drinks a lot.
This sounds like the stuff of a miserable soap opera but it’s far more complex with a number of deft psychological undertones. The premise of the show is supposed to be based on a Kabuki play dealing with aging, mentorship and legacy but what you get is an examination of the power of the dead; the same man’s power when he was alive and the way his life and death have affected those around him. The play, with offbeat humor and plenty of regret, works to capture the “ordinary struggle” everyone goes through although the author seems to imply that the struggles of artists are of more importance than those of other people.
The performances are excellent especially those by Edward Bauer and Ben Beckley (sons Robert and Samuel). Beckly pulls off a long, complex monologue near the end persuasively. Linda Marie Larson as Betsy, the wife/widow, needs just an ounce more conviction to land her character squarely. The production design by Nick Benacerraf evokes many different spaces with fine economy; I especially like the way the coffin side flips open to become a restaurant bar. The play was well-directed by Jess Chayes and written by Kate Benson and Emily Louise Perkins.
I Will Look Forward… was developed by The Archive Residency, a collaboration between New Ohio Theatre and IRT Theatre (like-minded neighbors in the historic Archive Building in the West Village), a unique incubator for New York City’s most promising emerging independent theatre companies. Now in its third year, the two year residency offers each company that an artistic home, including space, artistic support, and institutional continuity for the development and presentation of a new work, culminating in an exciting world premiere.
With a little tweaking to tighten up the work which sags in a few places, I Will Look Forward to this Later could make its points even more effectively. As it stands, it’s an interesting and sensitive portrayal of talent whether used, squandered or undeveloped.