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Simon Stephens

Morning Sun

November 12, 2021

In a departure for him, the three actresses play all of the characters, both female and male, and are listed in the program simply as 1, 2 and 3. While the play feels undramatic and has no high points it does put the entire 67 years of the life of its heroine Charlotte (Charley) McBride played by Falco center stage. This low-key form seems to be the point for Stephens: life is a series of moments, like beads on a string, rather than big explosions or confrontations. With Brown playing her mother Claudette and Marin playing her daughter Tessa, both actresses also take turns narrating and playing other people in Charley’s life: her father Harold, her best friend Casey, her lover Brian, her husband Edward, her Uncle Stanley. Not only is the drama low-key, the characters play ordinary people, a saleswoman at Macy’s, a receptionist at St. Vincent, a janitor at the YMCA, the sort of people one had met or can identify with, unpretentious and unassuming: what most of the world is made up of. [more]

Blindness

June 9, 2021

Read by unseen British stage star Juliet Stevenson, "Blindness" is as timely as Albert Camus’ "The Plague" with its story of an epidemic which affects first a community, then a city and finally an entire country. With the audience sitting in socially distanced pods of two, and listening on binaural headphones, the space has been equipped with bars of light both horizontal and vertical which turn either red, green, amber, blue or white and are raised and lowered at various times. However, since the story takes place in a city in which the inhabitants are struck blind, much of the play is performed in total darkness. [more]

Sea Wall / A Life (Broadway)

August 20, 2019

On screen and stage Gyllenhaal has exhibited his talent and star quality to great effect many times. "A Life" is not one of those shining occasions as he is just passable in it. Stammering, shrugging and halting like Woody Allen in Annie Hall’s prologue is how he starts off and later alternates jokiness and histrionic emotionalism as the piece’s lugubrious events unfold. This is simply an opportunity for fans of Gyllenhaal to see him in person and the performance succeeds on that level. [more]

Sea Wall/A Life

March 8, 2019

Both plays deal with young husbands who are coping with new fatherhood as well as their new responsibilities and their relationships with the dominant male figures in their lives. In Stephens’ "Sea Wall," Sturridge speaks admiringly of his father-in-law, while in Payne’s "A Life," Gyllenhaal speaks with love of his own father.  Both men are madly in love with their wives who they could not consider living without. These plays are ultimately tragedies of the accidental kind, events that one has no control over and cannot see coming. The double bill is performed on a basically empty stage with a brick wall behind (designed by Laura Jellinek), on which Peter Kaczorowski’s poetic and atmospheric lighting is a kind of additional onstage character. Carrie Cracknell's assured direction pilots both plays. [more]

On the Shore of the Wide World

September 21, 2017

Neil Pepe’s production of Simon Stephens’ "On the Shore of the Wide World" will not please all. The pace is consciously slow – like the life lived by these characters. However, the wait is worth the effort. By the end when the family reunites for Sunday dinner, the play has become both powerful and poignant. The title, incidentally, comes from the next to the last line of John Keats’ sonnet, “When I have fears that I may cease to be” in which the speaker worries about missing out on love, fulfillment, fame and success, apt summation of Simon Stephens' play.  [more]

Heisenberg

October 22, 2016

Simon Stephens, whose Tony Award winning "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" recently amazed audiences with its razor-sharp take on the inner workings of an autistic boy, is back with "Heisenberg," a two-hander that examines the relationship between a forty-something woman and a seventy-something man, written with the same consummate insight into the foibles of human beings, minus that play’s technical wizardry, here replaced by a sharp ear and eye for the nuances of neediness. [more]

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

October 20, 2014

"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" is the sort of very special play that only comes along once in a very great while. It is a play that will not only astonish you while you are in the theater but will also stay with you for a long time after you have left. In addition, you will come away with a much greater understanding of people with autism and how their minds work. [more]