COHORT REFLECTIONS by Tim Greenwood

Edited from a post by MRT Cohort Tim Greenwood

Three weeks ago I wrote that the just concluded “My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend” at Merrimack Repertory Theatre was not only the best thing that I had seen there, but in terms of an emotional resonance one of the most memorable pieces of theatre that I have seen in some 50 years. After seeing the show six times my respect and love for it, and for the originator and performer Charissa Bertels only deepened. It did get me thinking about the other pieces that fit into the most memorable category. This is long, and I do not really expect many to read it all to the end, but the recalling and writing has been interesting…

Under Charles Towers two productions, with completely opposing styles, stand out. I am not at all sure that David Mamet’s vicious and vulgar “Glengarry Glen Ross” went down well with Lowell audiences, but it did with me. At the other end of the scale was the touching and pretty musical “Daddy Long Legs”. In Sean Daniels-era “Home of the Brave” was a very funny and madcap farce but chiefly memorable to me as an introduction to the innovative cohort club. Here I not only had the wonderful opportunity to see the development of a new play as it flows from Lila Rose Kaplan‘s pen to opening night realization, but also to meet and become friends with Lila Rose, Joel, Veronika and Sean. I could also chat to my longtime ART hero Karen MacDonald. This seasons cohort experience repeated and deepened the process, most especially with Boyfriend where I hope that I can stay in contact with Ed Bell and Charissa even at long distance. I will never forget the final technical rehearsal just hours before the opening preview as Ed added the ‘money to make women obey’ lines to the Yale club scene. It made an already powerful moment even more so. Being a cohort on this production has been a profound experience, but even had I not had this opportunity and had only seen the show once on our regular subscriber night then I am sure that “My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend” and Charissa would have made it to this most memorable list.

–Tim Greenwood, Cohort

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