One could say the UK's chief export to the United States is offbeat comedy. From Monty Python's Flying Circus to The Office, our wit has been often whetted when we borrow from the Brits. With that in mind, consider a trip to the Dallas Theater Center's presentation of Joe Egga unique and darkly comic look into the lives of a British couple coping with the struggles of raising a severely handicapped child.
The play follows main characters Bri and Sheilaa married couple who escape the challenges they face by employing both brazen humor and vivid fantasies. When it comes to their 10-year-old daughter, who neither speaks nor meaningfully interacts with her parents, the couple must invent her personality and imagine her dialogue. The story is heartbreaking, the subject matter precarious and the characters at times desperate, but its thorny path is navigated expertly with a comic wink.
Playwright Peter Nichols draws from his own experience (his daughter Abigail was born severely disabled). The play, which premiered in 1967 and received Tony awards for its 1968 New York run, was recently resurrected in London starring Eddie Izzard. This latest rendition, directed by DTC Artistic Director Richard Hamburger, stars David Manis as Bri, who has worked previously with Hamburger in Room Service and The Sternham Project. Wendy Rich Stetson (Sheila) and Sandra Shipley (Grace) make their DTC debuts, and local actors Jessica Turner, James Crawford and Clara Peretz (Joe) complete the cast.
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Joe Egg premieres Tuesday, January 24, at the Kalita Humphreys Theater (3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. at Blackburn Street), although there are preview performances January 18 to 22. The play runs through February 12, with evening performances Tuesdays through Sundays and Saturday and Sunday matinees.
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Jan. 18. Continues through Feb. 12