TheaterWorks – RELATIVITY
Howard Steven Frydman
What’s a “D-lister”- you ask? They are those “Faces” you know or heard about – but can’t really place them-or that person on the fringe of notoriety but has just not “arrived” yet. At invited events, they are either nudged to the side or marooned with others of their like. I have always considered myself a “D-Lister” – Well this “D-lister”, just returned from an “A list” outing of “Relativity” currently in production at TheaterWorks in Hartford, starring the absolutely marvelous Richard Dreyfuss as Albert Einstein.
On this early Autumn evening, the theater is almost full, Artistic Director Rob Ruggiero is personally greeting many in the house, but the chatter from the lips of everyone is Dreyfuss this or Dreyfuss that – we are all eagerly here at TheaterWorks to see this old friend up close and personal. An original “D-Lister” himself – he was “one of those faces” on episodic TV series of the 60’s & 70’s known for playing the friend, a neighbor or party guest on such programs as “That Girl”, “Gidget” and “Bewitched” and btw if you look closely Richard has an uncredited role in the film “The Graduate”. Most recently, I was watching a rerun of “The Match Game” and there was panelist Barbara Rhoades, talking about this wonderful new film she was in- “The Goodbye Girl” and starring you guessed it Richard Dreyfuss- he had “jumped the shark” – receiving an Academy Award at 30 years of age ( at the time the youngest actor to do so) and then following up with a a string of “Hot List” successful films; “Jaws”, “American Graffiti”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and three of my favorite, “What About Bob”, “Moon Over Parador ( Please make a sequel) and “The Competition”.
The draw here is indeed Mr. D. as Mr. A. – Albert Einstein- in “Relativity” a new play by Mark St. Germaine and directed by Rob Ruggerio. The McGuffin? Not what you would expect-
“Relativity” is not about existential eureka moments, quantum or theoretical physics, you will not find no E=mc2 equation formula story here- but a more complicated tale about ones relations- née relatives- and a Rubic’s Cube of a historical mystery surrounding why would the world famous theoretical physicist and Nobel Prize winner Albert Einstein abandon his own child at birth? What became of the love-child, Lieserl Maria Einstein, of Albert Einstein and Mileva Maric, a child conceived out of wedlock- and now cloaked in an enigma only an Einstein could unravel-
St. Germain sets up a “what if” scenario of a forgotten child finally meeting up with a parent and seeking the equation- of why and her own “RELATIVITY”.
Dreyfuss the actor (Please remember- it’s Dreyfuss with two small s’s and not to be confused with Julia Louis-Dreyfus with only a single small s) is a sincere joy to watch – an actor you admire doing his craft for a much appreciated audience. His Einstein, light German enhanced accent, his white hair a-fluffed, is two fold- first introduced as a forgetful, humorous, grandfatherly character- Dreyfuss’s Einstein slowly builds to a torrent of pent-up, intricate emotions- very powerful! Rounding out the cast is Christa Scott-Reed portraying Margaret Harding-Einstein’s long forgotten daughter and Lori Wilmer as Helen Dukas- Einstein’s faithful aide and secretary. Wilner’s performance is very Cloris Leachman-esque- think “Young Frankenstein” a scene stealer whenever she is on stage!
Please note- I must confess- I am ever prone to cat-nap-itis, and have even been known to fall asleep during productions– “Relativity” held my complete interest for the entire one hour and 20 minute production. In fact, I was initially surprised thinking “RELATIVITY” was indeed about Einstein’s “Aha” moment of discovery- but sometimes history is stranger than fiction. In fact Dreyfuss could have been here in Connecticut with a portrayal of Mel Brooks, or George Burns, even an Ed or Steve Wynn, it simply would not have mattered- just the opportunity to bask in his creative genius is appreciation enough. Thank you TheaterWorks for providing this outstanding production helmed by a superb “actor” and the opportunity for this D-lister to see Mr. D. Enjoy!
“RELATIVITY”, by Mark St. Germain” is currently being produced at TheaterWorks, City Arts on Pearl, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford, CT. For tickets or info call TheaterWorks at 860.527.7838.
Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC.