While Calista Flockhart's appearance in a gritty, violently laced trio of one-act plays may be jarring to some of her "Ally McBeal" fans, New York theatergoers are flocking to off-Broadway's 200-seat Douglas Fairbanks Theatre to see the TV star in "Bash."
The three-act play by screenwriter Neil LaBute, who penned the dark films "In the Company of Men" and "Your Friends & Neighbors," sold out for its limited run, which is scheduled through July 24. (More dates may be added.)
"Calista decided for her summer vacation she wanted to do something live," says Eric Krebs, a co-producer of "Bash," in a recent interview with the Monitor. "She mulled [over] ... four or five different productions before she picked 'Bash.' Her agent came across these one-act plays and she wanted to do them."
More slice-of-life sketches than full-fledged dramas, LaBute's three-act play consists of two monologues and one duologue. The production provides its outstanding three-member cast - Flockhart, Paul Rudd ("The Object of My Affection"), and Ron Eldard ("ER") - with taut vehicles to showcase their emotional ranges. All three work for off-Broadway salaries.
In the first act, Flockhart plays a teen who kills her child when the schoolteacher who got her pregnant deserts her after the child is born.
In another, costarring Mr. Rudd as a gay-basher, Flockhart plays a character more akin to the sweetly eccentric, postmodern feminist Ally McBeal.
Some of her "Ally McBeal" fans have been so offended by the material in "Bash," they have left during intermission. Though not all. Others wait outside the theater after the show for an autograph.
Flockhart is no stranger to theater. She has appeared on Broadway in "The Three Sisters" and "The Glass Menagerie" and off-Broadway in "Wrong Turn at Lungfish" with Oscar-winning film and TV star George C. Scott.
"It really speaks deeply about [Calista's] connection to the theater," says Krebs, a veteran producer. "The theater is the place where she started and the place she wants to return."
Daryl Roth, producer of "Snakbit," a hit off-Broadway play which currently stars "NYPD Blue's" Bill Brochtrup, says, "There's a compelling reason for TV and film stars to come back to the theater.
"And in the summer, stars know they'll have a set amount of time to do theater and they are especially interested in doing it if they're offered a part they can really sink their teeth into."
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society