“Third” at TheaterWorks

By Tom Nissley

If you were an English professor at an impressive Connecticut college and you had to put up with an over-polite jock student on an athletic scholarship writing a top notch paper for your class, wouldn’t you assume he’d “borrowed” it from ghost sources on the Internet? Dr. Laurie Jamison (Kate Levy) did just that when Woodson Bull III (Conor M. Hamil) gave her what he said was his own work on “King Lear,” and took him to task for it.

Meanwhile the substance of “Lear” is working its way at home. Laurie’s father, Jack (Edmond Genest) wanders freely not remembering who or where he is. And her daughter Emily (Olivia Hoffman) is having her own identity crisis. Laurie’s husband (we don’t meet him) is enthralled with his new interest in a motorcycle club. A best friend, Prof. Nancy Gordon (Andrea Gallo) is undergoing chemo for a brain tumor, and, when an academic hearing is convened on Woodson Bull’s paper, Nancy casts the key vote in his favor.

“Third” is the story of Laurie’s personal trauma, from having championed women and their rights to championing Academic integrity over the folly of coddling the jocks, while struggling with all the rest of her existence. It’s an amazing play, given a superb production by director (and Theater Works’ Artisitic Director) Rob Ruggiero.

Theater Works is using this play to inaugurate its thirtieth season in Hartford. There couldn’t be a finer choice. It’s an arresting, thought-provoking, and very literate play. The actors, so well chosen, will all be nominated for best of the breed. The set (Michael Schweikardt) and lighting (John Lasiter) are award-winning, too, as are the costumes (Harry Nadal). But the important impact is that this production is good theater. No one will go home thinking ‘waste of time’ or ‘waste of money.’ You’ll know you’ve been to a great play in a great Connecticut venue, and just because of that your life will be better for it.

Call 860-527-7838 to arrange tickets. Information at www.theaterworkshartford.org

Tom Nissley, for the Ridgelea Reports on Theater

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