Opalescent Productions has announced the cast for Untying Love, a new drama about the end of life and letting go by Peggy Willens to run at TADA! Theater, 15 West 28th Street, NYC from October 13 to November 4, 2012.
Emma Berry directs a cast of eight, including Jed Dickson* (Off B'way: The Mask), Nancy Hess* (B'way: Phantom, Chicago, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Goodbye Girl), Rodrigo Lopresti (TV: The Quarter Life, Connected, The Black Donnelly's), Simon MacLean* (New York: The Crucible (ArcLight), Biography (Mint)), Marie Marshall* (NY: House of Mirth (Metropolitan); LA: Woman of Manhattan, Psychopathia Sexualis (Zoo)), John Mateyko (New York: Seussical), Nancy Nagrant* (New York: Naked in Encino, Family Dinner), and Kyla Schoer* (Off B'way: The Awesome 80's Prom). *Appearing Courtesy of Actors' Equity Association. AEA Approved Showcase.
In the tradition of Chekhov and Shepard, Untying Love is a raw and unblinking view into the intimate moment when people embrace the ultimate act of family love. The play is set in a hospice, where Steven’s mother is caught between life and death. He doesn’t know how to help her. Sharing stories, laughter and tears, his quirky family hopes to give his mother a peaceful goodbye, free of pain and fear. Two supportive hospice volunteers provide all the help they can. But something’s in the way. Who’s not letting go, and why?
Director Emma Berry described it as “a stunning script of depth, one that requires a first-class caliber of performance. It drew me back to live theater after many years away.”
Untying Love can be viewed as a contrasting but complementary piece to the Pulitzer Prize-winning Wit by Margaret Edson, with whom Willens attended high school in Washington, DC. While Wit portrays the experience of a woman, Dr. Vivian Bearing, in the last stages of ovarian cancer, in Untying Love the dying patient remains offstage. And while Wit is highly literary, including flashbacks to Dr. Bearing's erudite lectures on the poetry of John Donne, the characters in Willens' play struggle to communicate their most basic hopes, fears and resentments. But the two plays share two themes: that there are times when medical intervention can no longer help, and that there is something in the human experience that cannot be understood through intellect alone.
Untying Love is presented in a time when end-of-life issues, palliative care and hospice care are receiving increased attention. Current political debates about Medicare spending touch on the topic both obliquely ? about 25% of Medicare dollars are spent during the last year of a person’s life? and directly, as when the term “death panels” was coined for a proposal to offer Medicare patients voluntary counseling about living wills and end-of-life care options. The provision was deleted from the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Eighty percent of U.S. patients state that they don’t want aggressive intervention and hospitalization once their disease reaches a terminal phase, and yet many people who want to die at home or in hospice do not have that opportunity.