When it comes to theater, Joe Brancato takes the long view.
For more than 34 years, the plenipotentiary of the charming Penguin Rep Theater in Stony Point has used the barn theater as a theatrical incubator, presenting works first for Rocklanders and then, eventually, showing New Yorkers a thing or two.
He did it with Karoline Leach’s “Tryst,” (which was an Outer Critics best-play nominee), with “Cobb” (which was backed in New York, in part, by actor Kevin Spacey), and with Angelo Parra’s “The Devil’s Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith,” which is still playing in Manhattan, at the St. Luke’s Theater on West 46th Street” (7 p.m., Mondays, Feb. 6 to March 26; $36.50 or $69.50; 212-239-6200).
Now, it’s Joel Drake Johnson’s “The Fall to Earth,” first seen at Penguin in the summer of 2008, now playing at 59E59 Theaters, 59 E. 59th St. (212-279-4200).
It was an unusual choice for a summer show, as it deals with mothers and children and some really dark issues. There has been a death and Fay (the mother) and Rachel (the daughter) arrive to see to the details that must be seen to. Over the course of 90 minutes, details are unraveled and the tension mounts.
It has been three-and-a-half years since the final moments drew gasps from the Penguin audience.
I expect the same tonight, in a production featuring Deborah Hedwall, Jolie Curtsinger and Amelia Campbell. Campbell is no stranger to Penguin audiences, having appeared in “The Fall to Earth” in its Stony Point run, joined by was Tony-winner Michelle Pawk as Fay, and Laura Heisler as Rachel.
Photo by Peter Carr/The Journal News: Joe Brancato, a few seasons back, on stage at Penguin, a marvelous little theater.