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Odyssey Theatre revives groundbreaking
dark comedy ‘A Day in the Death of Joe Egg’
LOS ANGELES (August 30, 2022) — Named one of the “100 Most Significant Plays of the Twentieth Century” by Britain’s National Theatre, Peter Nichols’ groundbreaking 1967 play A Day in the Death of Joe Egg walks a dangerously fine line between hilarity and heartbreak. Odyssey Theatre Ensemble presents a compelling revival of Nichols’ semi-autobiographical dark comedy, directed by Ethan Maniquis. Public previews begin October 5, with one press preview scheduled for Friday, Oct. 7, Performances thereafter continue through November 21 at the Odyssey’s three-theater complex in West L.A.
In Nichols’ highly theatrical, very funny, but ultimately devastating tragic-comedy, married couple Bri (Nick Court) and Sheila (Sasha Higgins) use irreverent humor as a way to cope with the daily struggle of caring for their 10-year-old, severely brain-damaged daughter, Josephine (Allison Cameron Gray), whom they’ve affectionately nicknamed “Joe Egg.” The result is an immensely moving and profound play about love and marriage.
“It started out as a grim, dreary play that was utterly different in plot and tone,” explained Nichols in an interview. “As I went along with it, I refined it into a comedy. I think the secret to it is that it’s very light in tone. Don’t do it like Strindberg—do it like Noel Coward. At the end, [the characters] are all running about and the play turns into farce. The difference is that what they’re handling is not a man who’s lost his trousers, but a disabled child. The comic essence is what makes it work, I think.”
A Day in the Death of Joe Egg grew out of Nichols’ personal experience raising a disabled, non-functioning daughter who died when she was 11. The play’s title refers to Josephine’s nickname, explained by a line in the play, “My grandma used to say ‘Sitting about like Joe Egg,’ when she meant she had nothing to do.”
“The themes in the play are universal and timeless, and the writing is quite brilliant,” says Maniquis. “The wisecracking and black humor allow the characters to deal with a situation in which there are no easy options. It’s never going to be perfect. The story is about how we choose to live with that reality.”
Also in the cast are Troy Blendell and Jill Remez as friends Freddie and Pamela, and Sheelagh Cullen as Bri’s mother, Grace.
The creative team for A Day in the Death of Joe Egg includes scenic John Iacovelli; lighting designer Katelan Braymer; costume designer Mylette Nora; and prop master Jenine Smith–MacDonald. Beth Hogan produces for Odyssey Theatre Ensemble.
Joe Egg premiered at the Citizen’s Theatre in Glasglow because, according to Nichols, “no London producer would take it on.” It went on to a production in the West End and premiered on Broadway a year later, where it was nominated for four Tony Awards. A 1985 Broadway revival won Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards for best revival. A 2001 revival in London’s West End transferred to New York for the play’s third Broadway run. Nichols adapted his play into two films, first in 1970, and again in 2002. The first adaptation, which starred Alan Bates, was directed by Peter Medak, who will direct Julia Migenes in La Vie en Rose at the Odyssey this November.
With a 50-year history as one of Los Angeles’ most adventurous companies and a pioneer in the intimate theater movement, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble continues to offer world-class live theater experiences. Whether it be an original new play, a bold re-envisioned classic, or something hot off the international theater circuit, the Odyssey strives to be provocative, mind-bending and emotionally potent. As an artist-run venture, this unique company is always multicultural in both intent and practice, serving the wonderfully diverse ethnic mix of the Los Angeles community.
Two public previews of A Day in the Death of Joe Egg take place on Wednesday, Oct. 5 and Thursday, Oct. 6, each at 8 p.m., followed by a press preview (also open to the public) on Friday, Oct. 7 at 8 p.m. Thereafter, performances continue through November 21 on Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. (dark Sunday, Oct. 9), with three additional performances on Fridays at 8 p.m.: October 14, October 28 and November 11; and three on Mondays at 8 p.m.: October 24, November 7 and November 21.
Tickets to previews are $20. Tickets to performances on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays range from $25–$40. Tickets to performances on Monday nights are Pay-What-You-Will (reservations open online and at the door starting at 5:30 p.m.). Tickets for artists and educators are $20 with union (AEA-SAG-AFTRA) or school ID on Saturday, Oct. 15.
Post-performance discussions with the artists are scheduled on Friday, Oct. 28 and Monday, Nov. 7, and are included in the ticket price. The second Friday of each month (Friday, Oct. 14 and Friday, Nov. 11) is “Wine Night”: enjoy complimentary wine and snacks and mingle with the cast after the show.
The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025.
To purchase tickets and for more information, including up-to-date Covid-19 safety protocols, call (310) 477-2055 or go to OdysseyTheatre.com.
Details for Calendar Listings
‘A Day in the Death of Joe Egg’
Odyssey Theatre Ensemble presents a revival of Peter Nichols’ groundbreaking, semi-autobiographical dark comedy, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, named one of the “100 Most Significant Plays of the Twentieth Century” by Britain’s National Theatre. In this highly theatrical, very funny, but ultimately devastating tragic-comedy, married couple Bri and Sheila use irreverent humor as a way to cope with the daily struggle of caring for their 10-year-old, severely brain-damaged daughter, whom they’ve affectionately nicknamed “Joe Egg.” The result is an immensely moving and profound play about love and marriage.
• Written by Peter Nichols
• Directed by Ethan Maniquis
• Starring Troy Blendell, Nick Court, Sheelagh Cullen, Allison Cameron Gray, Sasha Higgins, Jill Remez
• Presented by the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, Ron Sossi Artistic Director
Previews: Wednesday, Oct. 5 and Thursday, Oct. 6
Press Preview: Friday, Oct. 7 (also open to the public)
Performances: October 8 – November 21
• Wednesday at 8 p.m.: Oct. 5 ONLY (Preview)
• Thursday at 8 p.m.: Oct. 6 ONLY (Preview)
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: Oct. 7 (Press Preview), Oct. 14*, Oct. 28**, Nov. 11* (dark Oct. 21, Nov. 4, Nov. 18)
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Oct. 8 (Opening), Oct. 15, Oct. 22, Oct. 29, Nov. 5, Nov. 12, Nov. 19
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: Oct. 16, Oct. 23, Oct. 30, Nov. 6, Nov. 13, Nov. 20 (dark Oct. 9)
• Mondays at 8 p.m.: Oct. 24, Nov. 7**, Nov. 21 (dark Oct. 10, Oct. 31, Nov. 14))
*Wine Nights on Friday, Oct. 14 and Friday, Nov. 11: enjoy complimentary wine and snacks and after the show.
**Post-performance discussions with the artists on Friday, Oct. 28 and Monday, Nov. 7.
2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90025
• Previews: $20
• Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays: $25–$40
• Mondays: Pay-What-You-Will (reservations open online and at the door starting at 5:30 p.m.)
• Artists and educators: $20 on Saturday, Oct. 15.with union (AEA-SAG-AFTRA) or school ID.
Go to odysseytheatre.com/plan-your-visit/covid-protocols to find up-to-date Covid-19 safety protocols.
(310) 477-2055 ext. 2 or www.OdysseyTheatre.com
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