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Steven Culp in "Sweet Sue"

July 9 - July 19, 1986

World premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown, MA

Playwright by A.R. Gurney Jr.
Directed by John Tillinger
Susan - Mary Tyler Moore
Jake - Steven Culp
Susan Too - Maria Tucci
Jake Too - Barry Tubb

Mary Tyler Moore, Steven Culp

photo by Bob Marshak

set by Santo Loquasto

Steven Culp, Mary Tyler Moore, Maria Tucci

photo by Bob Marshak

Mary Tyler Moore, Steven Culp, Barry Tubb

photo by Bob Marshak

Schenectady Gazette

Although the play requires four actors, there are only characters: Susan Weatherhill, a repressed and uncertain woman in her late forties, and Jake, a young man who is the college roommate of Susan's son. Each of these characters, however, is played simultaneously by two actors, who give expression to the tensions and ambivalences within the characters. The script refers to them as: "Susan," "Susan Too," "Jake," and "Jake Too."


The action of the play is set in Susan's home in a New York suburb--Susan being a romantically-minded, divorced mother of three, and a very successful artist and designer of greeting cards. It is summer and Jake, the Dartmouth roommate of her son, Ted, has taken up temporary residence with Susan while doing house painting to earn money for his college expenses. Susan is drawn to the handsome, lively Jake, while he, in turn, is hopeful of finally establishing a meaningful relationship with a member of the opposite sex--although what he has in mind is someone of his own age. But, as the two begin to draw closer to each other, what adds a special quality to their relationship is that Susan is played by two actresses and Jake by two actors--offering two distinct perspectives on both characters and allowing the playwright to conceive a wide array of clever and inventive combinations and situations. Susan (and Susan Too) wants Jake (and Jake Too) to pose in the nude for a life study, and while there is initial reluctance, Jake (both of him) finally acquiesces, leading to the bittersweet ending of the play in which desire and convention are both touchingly accommodated before Susan and Jake return, as they know they must, to their separate worlds. (c)

(July 18, 1986, The Boston Globe, by Jay Carr)

Excerpt from an article about the writer

Playwright Gurney Goes Bicoastal And Then Some

Like any playwright, Gurney considers himself far from immune to critics. In the Playbill handed out at "The Perfect Party," Gurney, in an interview, smarts at the recollection of having his first play panned in the Times. At Williamstown, his new "Sweet Sue" was deemed insufficiently developed to be exposed to critics. It was presented at regular prices for its advertised run, but a program note described it as a work-in- progress, and critics were asked to stay away.

Gurney and his director, John Tillinger, who staged "The Perfect Party" brightly and smartly, are right to want to shelter "Sweet Sue." Much progress lies ahead of it, although it can be said that its concept is intriguing, and it advances feelings more strongly and directly than Gurney usually does as a suburban single woman falls in love with her son's college roommate when the latter shows up unexpectedly one summer. The woman (who designs greeting cards and is known as Sweet Sue) and the young man are each played by two actors. Gurney says they aren't meant as light and dark sides, or any contrasting sides, of the same character, but rather as "charcoal sketches presenting several perspectives or positions simultaneously." Mary Tyler Moore and Maria Tucci played Sweet Sue; Steven Culp and Barry Tubb played her potential lover. All were engaging, and I look forward to seeing "Sweet Sue" when it's ready.

(June 27, 1986 The Boston Globe, by Jeff McLaughlin)

Williamstown Theater Festival announced this week that A. R. Gurney Jr.'s work-in-progress, "Sweet Sue," will be moved to the Main Stage. It had been scheduled for the Extension stage. Artistic director Nikos Psacharopoulos said the move serves "gives the playwright and the cast more time to work out the material in rehearsal, and secondly, it gives more people an opportunity to see the work-in-progress."

"Swee Sue" is a two-character play that requires four actors to accommodate Gurney's view of the work as "charcoal sketches presenting several perspectives or positions simultaneously." Steven Culp, Mary Tyler Moore, Barry Tubb and Maria Tucci will perform.

(July 9, 1986, The Wilton Bulletin, Wilton, Conn., by Fran Sikorski)

Coming next to the MainStage at Williamstown Theater Festival: A new play, a work-in-progress, Sweet Sue, by A.R. Gurney of Roxbury, featuring Mary Tyler Moore, Steven Culp, Barry Tubb, and Maria Tucci. MainStage performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 8:30, Thursday matinee at 2:30, Saturday at 9. Prices range from $6-$18. The Theater is located at the junction of Routes 7 & 2 in Williamstown, Mass. on the Williams College campus. Reservations: 413-597-3400.

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