The Company We Keep is everything that I love about theatre. Really. It is stock full of what I consider my favorite type of theatrical moment – when an audience is completely shocked and horrified by what they are witnessing but they are laughing hysterically at the exact same time. Beginning as a seemingly simple comedic family play, The Company We Keep goes to outrageous places. Playwright Jaclyn Villano finds the extraordinary in ordinary life, and what she has written, I like to describe as a Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf meets seriocomic crime drama, all told with snappy TV-timing dialogue that feels so modern American.
I’ve been very happily married for almost two years now and I seem to be surrounded by plays discussing and questioning the dysfunctions of the modern American family. There is something in the air, which is making our theatre community poke and prod at our American commitment to family. This play confronts our definitions of marital and familial bliss, and while laughing at and with the characters, we are forced to ask: “What would we do in this ridiculous situation?”
I tend to be most interested in theatre stories that go beyond what I recognize from my own living room, or in the case of The Company We Keep, my kitchen. And as I sit in rehearsals, I think: “What series of minute, seemingly unimportant decisions got these characters to this extreme place? When did these good people start acting so badly? How did it all go wrong and when is the point of no return?”
The intense drive and thrilling pace of this script, all in the mouths of our stunning cast, has made it so much fun to rehearse. It has been invigorating to work with Boston Playwrights’ Theatre’s tireless Artistic Director, Kate Snodgrass. Her keen dramaturgical mind has helped shepherd this play through a number of readings, and her immense desire to champion new work has brought us to a production that we are really eager to share.
Elena Araoz, Director