Every week the staff of Manhattan’s renowned Drama Book Shop undertakes the formidable challenge of helping actors find the best monologues for auditions and classes, answering hundreds of questions regarding the latest—and classic—plays from the U.S. and around the world; and recommending theatre craft titles–from lighting design to beating the pavement–which give best value. They even have a working theatre in their basement!

Here they are on Stage Voices, picking the best of published work to keep us up to date and aware of the little known—the next best thing to actually being in the shop, listening to their wise counsel and sage advice. 

DRAMA BOOK SHOP WEEKLY PICK:

SATURN RETURNS by Noah Haidle

You don't need to know much about the astrological phenomenon of Saturn “returning” to appreciate the beauty of this play. The title serves simply as a means of looking at a man at three pivotal points in his life–every Saturn Return. (It takes Saturn roughly 30 years to orbit the sun; in astrology, this phenomenon is called a Saturn Return. It is believed that at this time you will get a major dose of karma.)

But Saturn Returns by Noah Haidle doesn't deal with karma as much as it deals with Gustin's relationships to the women in his life and his inability to change. The play is nostalgic without being sentimental. One empathizes with Gustin as he continues to make the same mistakes and refuses to let go. In Gustin, we see a little of ourselves. The play continually asks, " if only…?"

What stayed with me while reading Saturn Returns was how beautifully constructed it was. I grew to care for each person (and each stage of Gustin’s life) with such intensity. There was never a moment when the play was not vivid and fully imagined in my mind. But the real treat for me was that after going down this road and becoming emotionally invested in the characters, Haidle delivered a stunning ending. There is nothing worse than a play with a lackluster finish. I often feel that the playwright just didn't know how to wrap things up, put on a pretty tied-up bow, or simply stopped writing altogether. With an ending that could be seen as sentimental to some, Saturn Returns offers the audience solace and closure. It allows you to exhale and appreciate the story as a whole.

Saturn Returns seemed to come and go quickly when produced at Lincoln Center in 2008. Perhaps because it took a year-and-a-half to be published, this play seems to have fallen off the radar. It is a perfect play for the Regional Market. With its small cast, unit set, and intimate setting, it would be a marvelous addition to any theatre company's season.

Cast: 3M, 1W
Wonderful scenes for a man and a woman.

Review by Abigail Hardin

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