Gideon Banner & Michael Esper: The Two of Them and 'The Four of Us'
From the pen of youngster playwright Itamar Moses, helmed by youngster director Pam MacKinnon and interpreted by youngster actors Michael Esper and Gideon Banner - Manhattan Theatre Club presents The Four Of Us - a story of male companionship that reverberates for audiences young and old!
"When Benjamin's (Banner) first novel vaults him into literary stardom, his friend David (Esper), a struggling playwright, is thrilled for his newfound success...or is he? The Four Of Us is a poignant new play about friendship and memory, the gap between our stories and our lives, and what happens when your dreams come true - for your best friend," describe press notes.
BroadwayWorld caught up with both men between shows yesterday to discuss their amiable characters in this delightful new comedic drama that shines a soft blue light on the intimacy and fragility of friendship…
Eugene Lovendusky: Congratulations to you both for exceptional performances all around, and for making your Manhattan Theatre Club debuts! How did either of you become involved with The Four of Us?
Gideon Banner: I actually knew Itamar in college; we were in the same class at Yale together. I didn't know him very well then, but we hooked-up afterwards. I did his one-acts [Untitled Short Play and Authorial Intent/Idea] and then they brought me in to audition for The Four Of Us at The Old Globe - and I've stayed with it since.
Michael Esper: I just came in to audition for Pam and Itamar a few months ago. Then read with Gideon and got in.
Gideon: We actually knew each other previously. He was in Big Bill at Lincoln Center and I understudied his role.
Eugene: Director Pam MacKinnon translates Itamar's text from page to stage really fluidly… what hand did Itamar in putting it to the stage?
Michael: He's a fiery dictator of a man! [laughs] No, I'm kidding! He's incredibly supportive. The dynamic in the room was fantastic; really wonderful, free and fun. A great environment to try things out, explore and play.
Gideon: Somewhat like his plays, he has an admirable bluntness sometimes about what he thinks about what he's written. Which is not to say that he's critical; but if you ask him a question, he'll give you a great answer - which is a great quality to have in the room. He doesn't over-shadow the director, he doesn't nay-say, but he definitely has input. And he was an actor as well, which is helpful, because he understands our perspective a little bit. If we get stuck with a line, we can ask him: "What are you getting at?" and he'd say: "I don't know! Whatever you think is great!" And Pam is extraordinarily supportive. She has this unique ability to allow people to explore and flower while shaping the play at the same time.
Michael: She allows enormous freedom, but without ever making you feel like you're adrift.
Eugene: Charles Isherwood from The New York Times summed it up pretty plainly saying you're "two likeable actors playing two likeable characters." To that end, how did you approach your characters?