At first, director Sally Edmundson wasn't at all sure she wanted to do the play Stages Repertory Artistic Director Kenn McLaughlin approached her with — despite reading it several times. He asked her to read it once more and finally Who Am I This Time? clicked in for her.
"There are layers upon layers and that's what has intrigued me about the piece," Edmundson says. Aaron Posner (Stupid F**king Bird) adapted three comic short stories by Kurt Vonnegut (“A Long Walk to Forever,” “Who Am I This Time?” and “Go Back to Your Precious Wife and Son”) into parts that become a whole by the end of the evening.
The setting is The North Crawford Mask & Wig Club, a small community theater in Connecticut. Tom (Philip Lehl), functioning as narrator at the start (his role changes later), states from the beginning that this is a play about love.
The middle story, a play within a play, focuses on Harry, who apparently only comes to life when he gets onstage. “Harry is a brilliant actor and a failure as a human being; he has no identity,” says Edmundson.
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Edmundson says this segment is especially appropriate given the subject matter. “Theater is a marvelous metaphor for not only life but love. It’s seductive; you can enhance things with light and sound and that’s what love is, or at least that’s what makes it so indescribable.”
The third story revolves around George, a newcomer to town who has married Gloria, the movie star of the day. "They moved to this little hamlet a year ago," Edmundson says. Tom is inside the house installing a shower enclosure when George and Gloria get into an impressive fight and Gloria leaves. The two men get drunk together and commence to talk about love and relationships.
How Tom finally reconciles his poor behavior and his marriage is that last part of the play. "This is the human conundrum of having to live in a world where we have expectations," Edmundson says. "With the ability to remain open to the unexpected, the surprises."
Performances are scheduled for January 25 through February 12 at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway. For information call 713-527-0123 or visit stagestheatre.com. $21-$65.