Yasmina Reza is a French playwright whose work has been translated into English. Her most well known plays are Art and Gods of Carnage. The Unexpected Man, which is playing at Shakespeare and Company through September 6 is not as well known although it also played in London and New York. This is a challenging two character play since the two characters are a man and a woman on a train from Paris to Frankfurt who don’t talk to each other until the play is almost over. Fortunately, the audience is privy to their inner musings.
Bob and I had the pleasure of interviewing Seth Gordon, the director and Corinna May and John Woodson before the play opened. Frankly, we wondered how such a play would work on the thrust stage of the Tina Packer Playhouse. The three of them assured us it would. We just had to wait and see. When we saw the play, it worked!! As audience we were engaged every minute in these strangers’ thoughts as their lives were revealed.
Playwrights, actors and directors are constantly challenging the conventions of theatre to show us new ways of experiencing the human condition. The 80- 90 minute play without intermission is a new format which intensifies the audience’s experience of the drama unfolding before them. This production is a fine example.