We’re fortunate in Wilmington to have such a varied, diverse, theater scene — small, edgy theaters, community theater, repertory theater, a touring company venue, and, finally, The Delaware Theatre Company, a professional theater that draws well-known actors to its stage from places like New York and Los Angeles. A theater like today’s DTC is an asset to the city — a city that hasn’t always been known as an arts destination.
DTC’s latest offering, REST, IN PIECES, is in keeping with the theater’s trend to cast well-known stage and screen actors, with a cast of three that includes Donna Pescow (depending on your age, you may know her best either from “Saturday Night Fever” or “Even Stevens,”), Lenny Wolpe (The Wizard in Broadway’s WICKED, among many other credits), and Frank Vlastnik (whose credits include Broadway’s BIG and BOARDWALK EMPIRE).
As impressive as the cast is, it’s the material that’s really special. Steve Bluestein’s play had never been produced as a finished product before DTC’s Bud Martin got his hands on it. Bluestein spent time in Wilmington helping to get it ready for its debut. The finished play isn’t without flaws, but they’re few. This is a play that relies on strong dialogue, and Pescow, Wolpe, and Vlastnik slip easily into their characters.
REST, IN PIECES is a high-concept play, with a story that is so simple you’d think it would be as common as a character seeing what the world would be like if he were never born. A family of three — mother, father, and adult son, take turns being the first of them to die. It’s striking how drastically different each scenario is, while keeping the characters completely consistent.
REST, IN PIECES is billed as a “laugh out loud funny” comedy, and you will laugh out loud (unfortunately, the line that got the biggest laugh on opening night was also the cheapest — something about “trailer trash at a Wal-Mart” — but there are some genuinely funny moments). It is, of course, dark comedy, as dark as Martin’s prior offerings THE OUTGOING TIDE and ANY GIVEN MONDAY, which both also dealt with death. And, while there is humor to be found in the bickering of a son and a widowed parent, there is almost none when it’s the parents who are left without their child, even if the child is 38. It would have been easier if there were siblings, perhaps, but this isn’t an easy play, as humorous as it is in places.
It is, however, very good, and a great opportunity to be one of the first to see what may well go on to be a very successful play.
REST, IN PIECES
by Steve Bluestein
Directed by Bud Martin
November 5 – 23, 2014
Delaware Theatre Company
200 Water Street
Wilmington, DE 19801