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Serena Ding Louie Play by Lanford Wilson

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Serena Ding Louie Play by Lanford Wilson.

Serenading Louie is a 1976 play by Lanford Wilson.

The 1976 Off-Broadway production of Serenading Louie played at the Circle Repertory Company from May 2 to May 30, 1976. 

Marshall W. Mason won an Obie Award for his direction.

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The cast included Tanya Berezin as Mary, Trish Hawkins as Gabrielle, Edward J. Moore as Carl, and Michael Storm as Alex.

The production was designed by John Lee Beatty, with costumes by Jennifer von Mayrhauser and lighting by Dennis Parichy.

In 1984, a production was staged at The Public Theater, opening January 17, 1984.

The cast included Lindsay Crouse, Jimmie Ray Weeks, Peter Weller, and Dianne Wiest, who won an Obie Award for her performance.

The production was directed by John Tillinger, with lighting design by Richard Nelson.

A revival was staged at London’s Donmar Warehouse in 2010, running from February 11 until March 27. The production then toured to Salford, Leicester, and Truro.

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The cast included Jason Butler Harner as Alex, Jason O’Mara as Carl, Charlotte Emmerson as Gabrielle, and Geraldine Somerville as Mary.

The production was directed by Simon Curtis, with design by Peter McKintosh.

The story involves two couples, appearing to live well in identical houses in the suburbs.

However, neither couple is happy in their marriage. An affair is being carried on secretly within this foursome, leading to a very violent conclusion.

Serena Ding Louie Play by Lanford Wilson

Serena Ding Review

Alex (Jason Butler Harner) is a ­Chicago lawyer whose unravelling of a ­corruption scandal has given him his own shot at becoming a Washington ­politician.

He just has to persuade his nervy wife, Gabby (Charlotte ­Emmerson), that’s what she wants too. Alex is best friends with Carl (Jason O’Mara), the former quarterback turned real estate ­magnate. Carl is married to Mary (Geraldine Somerville), who was also at college with them.

If Alex loves his wife too little, ­believing she is an emotional castrator, then Carl loves sparky Mary too much, which might explain why she is ­having an affair.

It is telling that the best and most ­emotionally authentic moment in ­Lanford Wilson’s talky 1970 play, which is ­relocated in Simon Curtis’s ­production to the early 70s despite looking like the mid-60s in Peter ­McKintosh’s design, is silent.

At the end of the first act the women pass through the living room like whispering ghosts hunting for lives long lost. Even nostalgia isn’t what it used to be for these well-heeled ­suburbanites who sleepwalk into their mid-30s, then wake up to discover that everything has turned sour and they want to have a good whine about it.

This is the stuff of boulevard drama, and dressing it up with Ayckbourn-style tricks of two couples in one space, or theatrical asides, doesn’t make it any more interesting.

The second act, with its Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? echo is slightly more perky, not least because Mary delivers some deliciously barbed observations.

But this is navel-gazing stuff saved only by a pertinent use of music and some truly heroic acting. The cast hurl the dialogue at each other as if it is a hand grenade, but the failure of the words to explode even during the final melodramatic moments is ­symptomatic of this play’s ashen emptiness.

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