On the Verge has been Lexington's on-the-move theater company, setting up its stages in locations appropriate to the plays it was performing. Among the venues have been a funeral home and a historical home.
This weekend, the three-year-old company will present its first production in a theater: Yasmina Resa's God of Carnage at the Downtown Arts Center.
This show has two quirks: There will be a changing cast of actors playing the two couples who come into conflict after their children have a playground squabble. And the couples are real-life couples: Paul and Lisa Thomas, Allie Darden and Bob Singleton, and Adam Luckey and Kim Dixon. Luckey also plays opposite Tiffiney Baker.
With the change-of-pace production coming up, we pitched a few questions to company director Ave Lawyer.
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Question: Tell us about the decision to do this play in a proper theater.
Answer: The plays drive our decisions about where to do them. It just happened with the Hellman plays (Lillian Hellman's Another Part of the Forest and The Little Foxes); those were set in Civil War mansions, and we happened to have some available. The funeral home became available for Three Viewings — it made sense.
This script is one that had intrigued us for a while. To do it site-specific, we would have to do it in an apartment in Brooklyn. As much as I'd like to do that, it would have been outside the budget. So rather than box ourselves into a corner and say we'll always be site-specific, meaning we might have to pass on work we find challenging, we said, let's see what happens if we put it in a proper theater, the DAC.
The spin that we add, and there's always a spin to what we do, is the double casting.
Q: What intrigued you about this play?
A: It's almost like an evolution of the Hellman plays: people behaving badly in intensely civilized environments. What Yasmina Resa is exploring, and what interests her as an artist, is the idea that some of us in the Western world — the civilized Western world — that we are somehow more civilized or more evolved or further away from our baser instincts than perhaps people in other parts of the world. We turn on the news and see insurrection, you see war, you see buildings on fire and think, "We would never behave like that. We're not like that." And there's a certain sense of that in our society.
What she does is takes four highly evolved people, puts them in a room and presses all the right buttons to create a situation where it becomes plausible how quickly they devolve into the savage inside. It shows that the veneer of civilization is very, very thin, and if you have the right triggers, bang! Everything explodes.
Also, the thought of real couples pressing each other's buttons, because that's what real couples do, made it fascinating to have real actor couples working together. Some of the discoveries have been very interesting.
Q: Without getting into a lot of psychological nudity, what have some of those discoveries been?
A: What happens in the rehearsal room, you try to keep in there. But I will tell you as sort of general thing that duration of relationship has an effect. The Thomases have been married for many, many years. Allie Darden and Bob Singleton are newlyweds. There is a difference in how far they are willing to go in the beginning. The Thomases sort of just light into each other without thinking twice and then go home and have coffee. The newer couples (including Adam Luckey and Kim Dixon) are a little more hesitant to where the wife has to physically attack the husband — whack the hell out of him. Allie was like, "Oh, no. It's Bob," and Lisa was whacking the hell out of Bob without me telling her to do it.
It's that sense of familiarity between the pairs and that willingness to throw caution to the wind, while the other couple is so polite with each other and probably still showing each other their best faces.