Quotidian Theatre Company’s production of Eugene O’Neill’s ambitious ensemble piece The Iceman Cometh runs October 25 – November 24. Christian Sullivan follows up an acclaimed production of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere at Rorschach Theatre, where he’s just been made a company member, with his Quotidian debut:
Ah, iOS 7.0.2 update. What a perfect time to write a blog post.
The Iceman Cometh is my all-time favorite play ever written in the history of ever. It has been for years and years. I read it first in high school. (On a whim!) Then again a couple times in college; both for fun and for scholarly function. I have read it once since college, and would have more if not for a “to read” pile 750,000 pages long. I have always found the characters to be so amazingly tragic, so real, so… eerily relatable. I have (and this is not a joke) daydreamed many a time about some heroic moment befalling me in a theatre. Something so epic that in gratitude the theatre grants me a show in their next season. I choose the show, the cast, the artistic team. Everything. And it is always The Iceman Cometh.
The show is everything I believe should be true of theatre. It is incredibly realistic. It is grounded in a reality that many of us don’t want to face. Though its characters have problems (hopefully) far worse than ours, it shines a light on the lies we tell ourselves. These characters have been beaten down by life, suffering the same troubles many of us try to ignore. They are all flawed, imperfect, and sad. They are the dark side of our psyches. I revel in the gritty world O’Neill has put before us. There is nothing fantastical about this play. This exact scenario is happening (more or less) in dive bars in every city in this country. And (spoiler alert) it never really works out well for anyone. We all keep lying to ourselves and staying stagnant and believing in a tomorrow that will never come. As a sophomore in high school, I was relieved to finally see a show that chose to not Deus Ex a glossy happy-fun-times ending onto a show that has no reason having that. It changed the way I looked at theatre.
Like I said, it’s my favorite show of all time.
Here’s the rub: I have never seen it. Never acted in it. I missed the movie version. (Technically, I did a scene from it for a class in high school. But I won’t count that, because all of our “liquor bottles” were empty Fruit Works.) I wanted to see it when it was on Broadway. Alas, I had neither the time nor the money. And it is not a frequently produced play in the DMV. Too new for Shakespeare Theatre, too old for Woolly Mammoth, and Imagination Stage wouldn’t touch it with a ten million foot pole.
Which is why I am overjoyed to be working on it. Well, the first reason. After being cast, I found many, many more reasons. As an actor, I get to work with a team of (mostly) unknown-to-me cohorts. The breadth of talent in this show is phenomenal. I get to say the words I’ve read time and time again. (Which have gracefully been cut down, to keep me with some semblance of a social life.) As a carpenter, I will get a chance to build Harry Hope’s bar: a place I have wandered through in my daydreams time and time again. As a fight choreographer, I get to work (again) with a group of people who surprise me at every turn. (I had choreographed one of the fights in my head. I thought, “This looks good! I’ll give it to the actors and it will be passable.” (Actors never work as well as imagination.) After ten minutes, they had made it look better than I could have dreamed!)
To say I am lucky to be part of this production is an understatement. It is a blessing to get to work on something I have been so passionate about without having touched it in any real way before. It’s like opening a gift you’ve wanted for years, but not finding out what it really is until it’s there.
I’ll see a production of it eventually.
Quotidian Theatre Company presents
The Iceman Cometh
by Eugene O’Neill
Oct 25 – Nov 24, 2013
Featuring Steve Beall, Matt Boliek, Frank Britton, Danny Brooks, John Decker, Tiffany Garfinkle, Genevieve James, Carolyn Kashner, Steve LaRocque, Ken Lechter, Brian McDermott, Brandon Mitchell, Louis Pangaro, Manolo Santalla, Ted Schneider, Chris Stinson, Christian Sullivan, and Frank Vince.
Director: Michael Avolio.
Artistic Adviser: Bill Largess.
Stage Manager: Christine Alexander.
Show times are 8pm Fridays and Saturdays, and 2pm Sundays, with one additional 2pm performance on Saturday, November 23.
Tickets are $30, or $25 for seniors and students, and can be purchased by cash or check at the door, online at Brown Paper Tickets, or by phone at 1-800-838-3006 ext 1 (ask for Quotidian Theatre Company). $15 per ticket for groups of 10 or more (email for reservations). Subscribers, email QTC or call 301-816-1023 for reservations.
All performances are held at The Writer’s Center: 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD.
The venue is a short walk from the Bethesda Metro Station. There is free parking on Saturdays and Sundays.