@ The Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St.
 

The Iris Incident

By Amy Lanasa, Directed by Mark Medoff

  • Charles (Eric Young), and Iris (Katy Taylor)
  • Kitten Marie (Lila LeCuyer) and Lacey (Marcelle Bowman)
  • Charles (Eric Young) and Lacey (Marcelle Bowman)
  • Kitten Marie (Lila LeCuyer) and Iris (Katy Taylor)
  • Iris (Katy Taylor) and Charles (Eric Young)
  • Charles (Eric Young), Iris (Katy Taylor) and Maureen (Sam Muir)
  • Lacey (Marcelle Bowman), Kitten Marie (Lila LeCuyer), Iris (Katy Taylor) and Moss (Kagan Marks)
  • Left to Right: Kitten Marie (Lila LeCuyer),. Lacey (Marcelle Bowman), Charles (Eric Young), and Iris (Katy Taylor)

Sep 12-Sep 28, 2011

FRI AUG 12 19| 8:00 PM
SAT AUG 13,20| 8:00 PM
SUN AUG 21,28| 2:30 PM
THU AUG 25 | 7:00 PM

Description

After caring for her father during a prolonged illness, a mourning Iris is forced to reconcile with a bizarre mother who abandoned her while dealing with the trials and tribulations that accompany her wacky friends and neighbors. But when she discovers that her safety net may not exist much longer, she must learn that sometimes you have to get away from all that you know in order to find out who you are.

Directed by Mark Medoff, himself a playwright and producer, and inspired by the late filmmaker, Mike Lawrence and iris tuber rescuer and theatre owner, Ceil Herman, The Iris Incident confirms Lanasa's ability to portray humor in dire situations as seen in her Buy One, Get Five Free, performed at the Black Box in 2009. This production marks the first collaboration between Medoff and Lanasa, although the two have known each other and worked together in other capacities for fourteen years.

The Iris Incident connects unlikely characters in the complexities of life and death, who are each dealing differently with change in the face of grief. Among the six characters is a champion thumb wrestler played by Medoff's grandson, a post-coma patient with aspirations of being an Ultimate Fighter, a pregnant teenage poet, and a maritime matchmaker who helps couples find love on the sea. Hilarity ensues as these disparate personalities each reveal their final to do lists bequeathed to them by Iris's late father.

Actors chosen for The Iris Incident are well known to area audiences and include Marcelle Bowman, Lila LeCuyer, Kagan Marks, Sam Muir, Katy Taylor and Eric Young. Peter Herman is the scenic and lighting designer.

Playwright's Note

I've never written a play the same way twice. Sometimes a story on the news will spark something. Other times I jolt awake in the middle of the night with a line of dialogue screaming through my head. (I'm looking for a leg!) The Iris Incident was born out of an experience I had as one of the people who took care of Mike Laurence in the last months before he died of cancer in 2007. Mike and I had worked together at CMI less than a semester when the final diagnosis came, but he was alone here, and I'm a firm believer that no one deserves to go through death alone. So, a few of us formed Team Mike, and we did our best to keep him as comfortable and healthy as possible during the last stage of his life. It's amazing how an experience can simultaneously be the best and worst thing you've ever endured. Late last summer, Ceil Herman told me the story about being willing to throw herself in front of a bulldozer in order to save the downtown irises from imminent construction destruction. It was an exceedingly funny image, and yet I understood that commitment to saving something. What she described was not unlike how I felt trying to save Mike. If there'd been a bulldozer involved, I might have tried to throw myself in front of it, too.

I am forever grateful to the Hermans, for believing in me and agreeing to produce this work before the first draft was even completed. I would not be where I am if Mark Medoff hadn't taken me under his wing over a decade ago and told me that if I could read a play, I could write one. I am also thankful for this extraordinary cast and the Medoff family, who spent countless hours reading early drafts to me around the dining room table, and giving notes that became the foundations of these characters. I am profoundly grateful to my parents, whose love and support make all things seem possible. I know they worry that everything they say could end up in a script some day, and I appreciate this doesn't prevent them from saying funny stuff. And lastly, a theatre experience is incomplete without the energy exchange with an audience, so thank you for being here. I hope you enjoy the show.

Credits

Charles
Iris
Kitten Marie
Lacey
Maureen
Moss
Director
Scenic And Lighting Designer
Written By

Reviews

Watching the color return
'The Iris Incident' well thought out, directed

- By Gerald M. Kane, Las Cruces Bulletin

Some irises need a great deal of care, especially in certain soils and environments.

I speak from personal experience. When we lived in Phoenix, our side yard became a rainbow of color for a few glorious spring weeks each year, full of irises and daffodils with very little attention needed from us. When we moved to Las Cruces, we planted a variety of colored iris bulbs in our backyard, which "bleached" pure white no matter what we did. The color simply disappeared.

Iris McIntyre, the title character in the world premiere presentation of "The Iris Incident" by Amy Lanasa, currently playing at the Black Box Theatre, also needs a lot of care. Much like our Las Cruces irises, she has all the "color" spiritually drained from her after serving as the primary caregiver for her dying, demanding father for several years.

The caliber of the performances by a good ensemble cast, all of whom were "in the moment," thanks to the thoughtful, skilled direction of one of the jewels in Las Cruces' theater/ film crown, award-winning playwright director Mark Medoff, the pace is kept up, and the opening night's performance passed by all too quickly.

Now that her father has died, Iris must cope with his passing and the "baggage" that comes with it, not to mention a re-connection with her estranged mother who returns to participate in a memorial tribute to the husband she left so many years ago.

Iris does have a small quirky support system of friends who help her as best they can. There is a championship thumb wrestler, played with savvy, flair and a sense of humor by Medoff 's grandson Kagan Marks. There is a dysfunctional couple - a post coma patient whose erratic behavior requires the ongoing supervision of her over-qualified, under-employed lawyer husband. Marcelle Bowman and Eric Young expend a great deal of energy to make these challenging roles work.

The arrival on the scene of Iris' mother and her "assistant," a pregnant teen played convincingly by Lila LeCuyer, add some zip to the play.

I was most deeply touched by the performances of Sam Muir as Maureen, Iris' eccentric estranged mother, and Katy Taylor in the multi-faceted title role. The chemistry between these two skilled actresses is complex and special, and alone makes this play worth seeing.

This is a finely constructed play with flashes of humor, but an awful lot of burden and pain. Some scenes and relationships developed in the play may touch so close to many audience members and may make them squirm. This is one of the best roles good innovative theatre can provide.

As always, the simple, scenic and light design of Peter Herman is spot on.

By evening's end, however, thanks to a thoughtful resolution of the issues, I had the distinct feeling that the color was beginning to return to the emotionally drained and blanched Iris.

Lanasa's writing is clever and her well-thought-out character development and dialogue come at us at a rapid pace.

Much of this underlines the tempest of emotions which accompany coping with any loss.

In sum, "The Iris Incident" may have a nourishing future ahead of it, with the careful ongoing nurturing of its devoted caretakers, Amy Lanasa and Mark Medoff.

As always, special thanks goes to No Strings Theatre Company Producer Ceil Herman for her ability to scope out new plays and grow and harvest fine theater in our community.

"The Iris Incident" runs through Sunday, Aug. 28, at the Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St. Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; at 2:30 p.m. Sundays, Aug. 21 and 28; and 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25. Tickets are $10 regular admission, $9 for students and seniors over 65 and all seats on Thursdays are $7. For reservations, call 523-1223.

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