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Signature Theatre Presents "Wakey, Wakey" at The Pershing Square Signature Center
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Signature Theatre Presents "Wakey, Wakey" at The Pershing Square Signature Center

- Backstage with the Playwrights

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Signature Theatre
Wakey, Wakey

Written and Directed by Will Eno

Signature Theatre
(Signature Theatre Website)
James Houghton, Founding Artistic Director
Erika Mallin, Exec. Director
The Pershing Square Signature Center
480 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036
(212) 244-PLAY (7529)

Michael Emerson and January LaVoy

Scenic Design: Christine Jones
Costume Design: Michael Krass
Lighting Design: David Lander
Sound Design: Nevin Steinberg
Projection Design: Peter Nigrini
Production Stage Manager: David H. Lurie
Casting: Telsey + Company/William Cantler, CSA
Press Representative: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
Assoc. Artistic Director: Beth Whitaker
General Manager: Gilbert Medina
Director of Marketing/Audience Services: David Hatkoff
Director of Production and Facilities: Paul Ziemer

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 26, 2017 Matinee

This thought-provoking new play by Will Eno, running just over one and one-quarter hours, is one that grows on the viewer, as you become more and more attached to the fate of Guy, an elderly man introduced face down on the stage floor. Guy (Michael Emerson) is next seen, after a break of darkness, in a wheelchair, perhaps on his way to assisted living, as cartons and trash are placed about. Mr. Emerson inquires of the audience if the “time” has come, and then he spends about an hour filling that time reading witticisms from index cards, as random as fortune cookie prophesies, and presenting television clips and slides of animal and human comedic antics. Mr. Emerson takes the audience into his fast-moving brain, as he confides that his body and organs are fading fast. He cannot eat or chew what he’d like, and, as a former swim instructor, the lack of strength is catastrophic to his sense of self. Guy is an everyman, one whose plans and dreams have been stopped by a sudden red light, in this case an illness, although it could have been an accident, an act of violence, or even a random act of nature. Guy is making the most of every one of his final moments, musing, remembering, even memorizing the pre-recorded television bits. In between his fragmented, pathetic monologue, the stunning thickness of ambient silence resounds with Guy’s lack of visitors and support system.

During the final quarter of an hour, one visitor has come, Lisa (January LaVoy), the warm, nurturing caretaker, who arrives at the witching hour. That is, perhaps a hospice worker, as she takes notes on questions and observations, or a case worker, depending on the unknown details of Guy’s situation. What is apparent, however, is that we’ll see Guy quickly deteriorate, and we’ll see Lisa quietly and professionally soothe the existential and immediate pain. Will Eno, whose previous plays “The Open House” and “The Realistic Joneses” have been favorably reviewed on these pages, uses irony, naturalism, and minimalism in dialogue (at least in the three Eno plays I’ve attended) to expose the raw human condition of physical and emotional deterioration. How people cope, and with whom they choose to interact in their dark hours seem to be among Mr. Eno’s literary threads. Peter Nigrini’s projection design, along with David Lander’s lighting design and Nevin Steinberg’s sound design, were intrinsic to the immediacy of this piece. Mr. Eno directed his play, which, in this case, was a good thing, as his concept is so personal and unique. Kudos to Signature Theatre for choosing Mr. Eno as a Residency Five playwright in the Signature complex.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at