It’s that old saying, you can’t go home again.”
That’s how director Bill Waxman sums up the theme to “Brooklyn Boy,” the Donald Margulies play that opens this coming Thursday at Carpinteria’s Plaza Playhouse Theater. In this 2005 play, Eric Weiss (played by DIJO regular Ed Giron) is an author with critical respect but without the money to show for it. That is, until he writes a semi-autobiographical novel and finds himself shooting toward fame, and finds that, after all the time spent waiting for it to happen, he is not prepared.
And so he seeks out the approval of his dying father by heading back to Brooklyn. He runs into old friends that he’d rather not see, deals with an ex-wife, a neurotic producer, and an actor set to play him in a movie. Eric thinks he’s escaped his past, but his past won’t let him.
Donald Margulies’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Time Stands Still” was produced this last summer at Center Stage Theater by Peter Frisch’s Producing Studio, and Rubicon Theatre in Ventura put on his two-woman show “Collected Stories” this summer. After falling out of fashion since Ensemble Theatre Company produced “Stories” in 2000, the playwright is having some sort of Central Coast renaissance. Or it could just be coincidence.
Producer and actor Jerry Oshinsky chose the play because of his own connections to Brooklyn and the nostalgic notes it touched, and though his decision to play Eric’s father may be a stretch in terms of the two actors’ ages, it worked emotionally.
“He’s from Brooklyn and can identify with his character and my character,” Mr. Giron says. “He brings a certain depth to that role that only somebody who grew up in Brooklyn can do. I feel he’s really feeling this.
“This is the most challenging role because this whole show is about things that are out of the character’s control. Things happen to him, he doesn’t happen to it. He spends the play responding, reacting and trying to navigate his way through all of these things that he never dreamed he’d have to deal with.
“It’s survival, trying to rise above, but also allowing yourself to be knocked back,” says Mr. Giron. “He’s asking, ‘How do I find my way back home to a place of contentment and comfort, where I’m wanted again?’ We’ve all had that feeling at some time or another.”
On the other hand, Mr. Giron sees it as a refreshing change from years playing historical figures, mastering all sorts of accents, but now, he says, “I get to play a guy. Just a guy.”
Rounding out the cast is Sean Jackson as the would-be actor Tyler; Shannon Saleh, a Circle Bar B vet and a finalist in Rising Star, as Eric’s ex-wife; Richard Lonsbury as Eric’s friend; Aden Hailu as the movie producer; and Alison Waxman, Bill’s daughter, as the young woman attracted to Eric.
“A lot of times we don’t appreciate what we have,” says Mr. Waxman. “A lot of the play is not about what will be, but what was. People might leave with a bit of nostalgia. There’s a lot of good chuckles but a lot of poignancy too.”
When: Preview 8 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Jan. 9, 15-17;
3 p.m. Sunday Jan. 11 and 18
Where: Plaza Playhouse Theater, 4916 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria
Information: (805) 684-6380, www.plazatheatercarpinteria.com