In the first scene of the play, we meet Mark (Michael Booth), a successful writer in his 40s still grieving the loss of his partner 12 years ago. He has "accidentally" brought home a young prostitute named Todd (David Darrow), and the two develop a relationship that progresses over the next several years (with the time displayed on the wall at the beginning of each scene). Mark offers Todd kindness when he's in trouble, and the two eventually discover that they love and need each other. Their relationship is complicated by the fact that Todd continues to work as a prostitute despite Mark's suggestion that he go back to school, as well as Mark's discomfort in introducing his new young boyfriend to his successful established friends. His good friend Edith (Michelle O'Neill, who directed the Fringe production) visits from London and tells Mark exactly what she thinks of Todd - that he's taking advantage of him and it can't possibly be love. She introduces her fiance Thomas (Bill McCallum) to Mark and Todd, which adds another layer of complication and tragedy. Even though none of their friends quite understand, these are two lonely and broken souls who need something the other can give. Even though they may not be able to stay together, they've changed each other's lives for good, and I think, for the better.
|Mark and Todd in a happy moment (Michael Booth and |
David Darrow, photo by Heidi Bohnenkamp)
The black box studio is set up in my favorite arrangement and the one that feels the most intimate, with audience on three sides of the square stage, mimicking the Guthrie's thrust stage. I think this is my favorite of the five Michael Hoover sets I've seen in the last month - a gorgeous Frank Lloyd Wright-esque home, with a living room I'd like to live in and stairs to a second floor with multiple doors.
Skiing on Broken Glass continues through November 17 in the Guthrie studio. I really loved this play; I think it's so beautiful and heart-breaking, well-written with strong acting from the four-person cast. The playwright says it best in a note in the playbill:
Skiing on Broken Glass is about following your heart though others may judge you harshly. Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the people we love and the relationships we pursue. And it's about the bounds of friendship and the responsibilities that come with it.
At its most basic level, Skiing on Broken Glass is about the universal need to give and receive love, to have profound and selfless feelings for another person in the deepest recesses of our hearts. It is about love in all its forms: healing and hurting. Lost and mourned, Bought and sold. Vulnerable and irrational. Selfish and unconditional. Love as a weapon. Love as salvation.
*Read this interview with Joe Dowling for more about the development process and casting.