James Van Der Beek, best known for his starring roles on Dawson's Creek and in Varsity Blues and who currently can be seen on ABC's Don't Trust the B-in Apartment 23, is set to appear in the American premiere production of Joanna Murray-Smith's The Gift at the Geffen Playhouse. Joining Van Der Beek is Golden Globe and Emmy award winner Kathy Baker (Picket Fences, Edward Scissorshands, All the King's Men) as well as acclaimed stage and screen actors Chris Mulkey (First Blood, Southland, Twin Peaks) and Jaime Ray Newman (Eastwick, Catch Me If You Can). Helmed by international powerhouse director/actor Maria Aitken, The Gift begins in previews in the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse on January 29, 2013 and officially opens on Wednesday, February 6, 2013.
The Gift follows the great success of the 2010 Geffen Playhouse production of Murray-Smith's play, The Female of the Species, which ran to sell-out houses in Los Angeles and was also produced on the West End where it was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. Much like the provocative subject matter of The Female of the Species, Murray-Smith's The Gift has already sparked debate and discussion overseas in its premiere production in Melbourne. The Daily Mail said, "Murray-Smith has Oscar Wilde's gift for one-liners." The Melbourne Age said, "Unnerving and vital enough to have you arguing about it all the way home."
Murray-Smith's play Honour was produced on Broadway, the West End, and at the Royal National Theatre in London; she adapted Ingmar Bergman's Scenes From a Marriage for Sir Trevor Nunn and is about the premiere a new adaptation of Hedda Gabler. She has written 16 full-length plays that have been performed throughout North America and around the world in many languages; Variety described her as Australia's foremost female playwright.
When two couples meet while vacationing at a ritzy resort, they instantly transition from strangers to the best of friends. Despite their almost comical differences - Ed (Chris Mulkey) and Sadie (Kathy Baker) are middle-aged, rich and traditional, while Martin (James Van Der Beek) and Chloe (Jaime Ray Newman) are young artists glowing with their potential to change the world - they find themselves spending the rest of their week together. When one seemingly inconsequential event throws both their lives into a tailspin, the couples find themselves wrestling with a moral dilemma: while it's human nature to want what you don't have, is it unnatural to abandon something that you do? This provocative new work draws audiences in with a beguiling hilarity that gives way to an unsettling twist, posing searing questions rather than providing comfortable answers.
The Gift was originally commissioned by Melbourne Theatre Company and received its world premiere in the MTC Theatre in Australia in 2011. Opening night festivities for The Gift will be sponsored by Qantas Airlines and special events during the run include the theater's Signature Series performances for no additional cost. These evenings include an intellectual, thought-provoking post show Q&A at Talk Back Tuesdays; a scintillating, one-of-a kind after-party at Girls Night Out; a cultural happy hour with Lounge Fridays and complimentary wine tastings during Wine Down Sundays. For more information, please view www.geffenplayhouse.com/giftevents.