Interview by Lorraine Wilde
iDiOM: What is unique about Death, The Final Irony, and what elements do you think will appeal most to audiences?
Don: I think what’s unique about this show is also its most appealing aspect: the play takes a heavy topic, something we all think about, and discusses it thoughtfully with humor and feeling. It’s this balance between being intelligent, funny, and heartbreaking all at once that drew me to the script. All the while, the topic is handled with great respect.
This isn’t the first piece you’ve directed in the genre of the absurd. You directed last season’s The Birthday Party at iDiOM. Have you noticed any commonalities or learned anything specific from that previous experience?
While they don’t resemble one another in any obvious way, there are a couple of commonalities; both this work and The Birthday Party show a reverence towards language and are very specific in regard to word choice, timing, and logic. Both plays also effectively balance humor, intellect, and emotional weight.
I learn something from each experience that I can use on the next. The takeaways from The Birthday Party that I’m using on this show are mainly tied to how to effectively use the iDiOM space and technical capabilities. iDiOM has a unique configuration that allows you to be not only close to the audience, but right in there with them. With The Birthday Party, this resulted in unique staging opportunities that you wouldn’t normally get with a standard proscenium or thrust configuration. Death, The Final Irony differs in that there is a lot of audience engagement with actors speaking to the audience as if they are another character in the show. iDiOM’s configuration lends itself to the audience/actor relationship established by Friedlander’s play.
Can you tell us about why you chose to direct this work?
This is a deeply personal play for me in a couple of ways. Author Andy Friedlander was my first college drama instructor and has remained a close friend and colleague over the years. He introduced me to my wife, Heather Dyer, who performs in Death, The Final Irony, and who gave me my first teaching and directing job right out of graduate school. All these years later, I’m still learning from Andy and benefiting from his creativity and talent. It’s a pleasure and an honor to bring his latest play to iDiOM and I couldn’t think of a better venue.
The show opens Thursday, September 24th, and plays Thu/Fri/Sat for two weekends.
Tickets are $10 advance and $12 at door.