THE MERCY SEAT Set for Philadelphia Fringe
Neil LaBute's sometimes controversial, always unsettling fascination with the war between the sexes is on full display in THE MERCY SEAT. This two-hander, written in response to the September 11 attacks, asks a provocative question: what if you had the chance to hit the reset button on your life? Exploration of the answer results in a searing laying-bare of the relationship between Ben and Abby as they wrestle with how to move forward.
Neil LaBute's work (IN THE COMPANY OF MEN, THE SHAPE OF THINGS) is often criticized as misanthropic and/or misogynist. In THE MERCY SEAT, he has shifted the dial. His characters remain deeply flawed (and possibly amoral), but rather than remaining locked in combat for the sport of it, the aim of Ben and Abby's struggle is to achieve connection on common ground.
Under the direction of Brenna Geffers, local theater artists Ruth Wells Fischer and Thomas-Robert Irvin collaborate to bring this intriguing and compelling play to the 2019 Philadelphia Fringe Festival, performing in a non-traditional, immersive space to enhance the immediacy and intimacy of the piece. Seating is extremely limited, and audience members are encouraged to book early.
Ruth Wells Fischer has performed in Off- and Off-Off-Broadway with the Ensemble Studio Theatre, the Actors' Collective and Threshold Theater Company, and in Philadelphia with InterAct Theatre and the Philadelphia Area Repertory Theater. She trained with The Groundlings in NYC and studied at the Walnut Street Theater, Arden Theatre, and Hedgerow Theatres locally.
Thomas-Robert Irvin (member, Actors' Equity) has appeared Off- and Off-Off-Broadway with The York Shakespeare Company, The Triad Theatre, and The Oberon Theatre Ensemble. Philadelphia regional credits include the Walnut Street Theater, the Arden, Quince Productions, Montgomery Theatre, Irish Heritage Theatre, The Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium, Hedgerow Theatre (where he spent three seasons as a member of the Resident Company) and numerous others. Other regional appearances include Bristol Riverside Theatre and the Millbrook Playhouse. TV: Law & Order: SVU, The Good Fight, Blindspot, HighTown, and The Morning Show. He holds a BFA in Acting from Marymount Manhattan College.
Brenna Geffers (Director) is a theatre-maker and director based in Philadelphia. She has directed and created work locally for Theatre Exile, EgoPo, Curio, Simpatico, Philadelphia Artists Collective, Revolution Shakespeare and the Philadelphia Opera Collective, to name a few. She is a founding member of Die-Cast with designer Thom Weaver with whom she has created immersive world premieres in Philadelphia, New York, Texas, and Provincetown.
Performances are September 11-22 at 600 Catharine Street, Second Floor (walk up), Philadelphia. Further information and tickets available through fringearts.com/event/the-mercy-seat-by-neil-labute/ or ruthwellsfischer.com/the-mercy-seat. This production is being presented under the auspices of the Actors' Equity Association Members' Project Code.
Photo credit: Rose Azrael Images; Thomas-Robert Irvin & Ruth Wells Fischer