New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


BIG NEWS! Here's the latest Issue of NJ Stage Magazine -- Click here

Wasserstein's Work Shines Again In Two River's Production of "Third"

By Gary Wien


In the late sixties, Laurie Jameson began her work as a college professor at an elite, New England liberal arts college. As the Vietnam War raged on, Jameson was a rebel, fighting the establishment and its traditional views. Well known throughout academia for her work, she's challenged thirty years later by a student that is able make coherent and sometimes brilliant arguments against the values she holds deeply. In short, she has become the establishment and the student, Woodson Bull III, is the new rebel.

In a classic "get off my yard" like senior moment, Jameson strikes back in the only way she knows how — charging Woodson, or "Third" as he is nicknamed, with plagiarism.

That's the basis for "Third", the final play written by the great Wendy Wasserstein who received the Tony Award and Pulitizer Prize for "The Heidi Chronicles" in 1989. Two River Theater Company is presenting "Third" now through June 22 and it is a production not to be missed. Crisply directed by Michael Cumpsty, "Third" is an intellectually stimulating and challenging look at how political views and stereotypes can shape our worlds and our lives. It's also very, very funny.

Annette O'Toole stars as Laurie Jameson, portraying her as a stern but confident college professor. As Woodson Bull III, Christopher Sears shines as her intellectual equal, but one the finds as much goodness in the world as Jameson sees problems. Amy Hohn does a wonderful job as Nancy, a friend and colleague of Laurie's who is battling cancer for the second time. Emily Walton plays Laurie's daughter, an apple that doesn't exactly fall close to the tree. Rounding out the cast is J.R. Horne as Jack Jameson, the lovable father of Laurie whose memory is failing more and more by the day.

"I want you to speak up, don't be afraid to contradict me or challenge the norms of the dominant culture," says Laurie Jameson on the first day of class and she believes those words; unfortunately, her words ring hollow when she's challenged by Third.

Third wonders why her analysis of "King Lear" is so radically different from what he learned in high school and asks if he can reschedule a mandatory viewing of the film because he will be busy with the wrestling team on the day it is scheduled. She instantly sizes him up as a young Republican from a wealthy family who's a jock — obviously someone who will never see things from her perspective. The problem is that her judgement is wrong on all accounts.

"Are you a Republican?" Jameson asks, treating the word as an admittance of original sin.

"I'm pro choice and I recycle", he replies with a smile.

Regardless, she suggests that he consider transferring because she doesn't believe he will fit in at the school. The truth is that Third purposely chooses challenges for himself. He enjoys putting himself in situations that others cannot understand what he's doing there such as the feminist classes on his class schedule. In fact, it's his love for challenges that led him to take Laurie's class.

Meanwhile, outside the college, the world is following the impending Iraq War vote and Laurie Jameson is obsessed with the possibility of war. She's glued to the news at every opportunity. Nancy's breast cancer has returned, Laurie is beginning to feel hot flashes, her father is losing his mind and disappearing each day, and her marriage is stuck in an image of the past when her husband was a rising star in academia. All of these factors combine to make her refuse to believe that the brilliantly constructed work submitted by Third could actually be his own creation.

She disagrees with the paper, of course, but recognizes its brilliance. She feels threatened by her life's work being challenged by someone she deems inferior. The war, her hot flashes, and Nancy's cancer has Laurie sensing her own mortality. In an effort to take back the world as she knows it (or at least within the safe confines of the college), she accuses Third with plagiarism.

Deep down, I think Laurie knows that she's met her match and simply cannot handle it. Third is challenging the establishment the way Laurie did when she first entered the system. Unfortunately, she has become the system and doesn't have a shred of proof to go along with the plagiarism charge. She also doesn't have a clue as to how her actions will affect his life or her own.

"When someone like me, a Midwesterner, and athlete, on the fence politically, comes looking to you for answers, I am dismissed, even before I ask the goddamn question. And from my point of view, that's how you lost this country," says Third.

The dialogue is wonderful, the pace is perfect, and the acting is superb. This is a very good revival of a play that may resonate even more now in our heated political climate than when it was written. It offers a nice reminder that people are not always who we think they are and dismissing them outright can sometimes lead to our own downfall.

"Third" is playing now through June 22 at the Rechnitz Theater, 21 Bridge Avenue, Red Bank, NJ. For more information visit http://www.tworivertheater.org



Photos by Michal Daniel


For more by this author, click here






The Panto Company Presents "Beauty and the Beast" at The Newton Theatre
(NEWTON, NJ) -- When you think of a dying rose and a clock, candlestick andteapot who talk... you are thinking Beauty and the Beast. One of this season's spellbinding family shows from The Panto Company USA stars Dame Dotty Potty, Loopy Louie, Gaston, Belle and of course The Beast!  The company brings their show to The Newton Theatre on Sunday, March 3 at 3:00pm.
La Strada Ensemble Theater Presents "La Bella Familia" by Edwin Sanchez
(OCEAN GROVE, NJ) -- La Strada Ensemble Theater presents La Bella Familia by Edwin Sanchez from January 18-20.  The play deals with a Puerto Rican hit woman and the gentlest man in the world move next door to the neighbors from hell and everyone learns, the hard way, that family comes first.
Art House Productions Presents "The Passion Project" by Reid Farrington
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- Art House Productions presents the unique theatrical experience that is Reid Farrington’s The Passion Project performed by Laura K. Nicoll.  Eight performances will take place from February 21st to March 3rd. The Passion Project is a 30 minute vibration between performance, film, and installation. Carl Th.Dreyer’s 1928 immortal masterpiece, “The Passion of Joan of Arc” is the main narrative along with the history behind the making of the film, a discussion with a Danish archivist, the story of making this project, as well as Joan’s own story –– her trial, torture, and execution. The Passion Project explodes the film into the three dimensions; placing the audience inside the film, sitting next to Joan, subjecting them to the relentless rhythm of 35 mm film projection.
4th Wall Theatre Presents "Intimate Apparel" by Lynn Nottage
(MAPLEWOOD, NJ) -- 4TH WALL THEATRE continues its 22nd season with a one weekend run of Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel.  The show will be presented as part of the Black History Month celebrations on February 22, 23, and 24 at the Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts in Maplewood, NJ.  The show is directed by 4th Wall Executive Director Gwen Ricks-Spencer.
East Lynne Theater, the Henry Sawyer Inn, and Twin Gable's Inn present Murder Mystery Weekends
(CAPE MAY, NJ) -- The award-winning East Lynne Theater Company, with The Henry Sawyer Inn and Twin Gables Inn, present Murder Mystery Weekends on February 15-16, March 8-9, March 22-23, March 29-30, and April 5-6. Participants can test their crime-solving skills while staying in one of these lovely Bed & Breakfasts. East Lynne Theater Company's Murder Mystery Weekends were cited among one of the top five in the country by "AM NY."  


It's "Apple Season" at NJ Rep
Every family has stories. Some are funny. Some are sweet. Some are sad. And some are never shared. Those are often the most powerful.
Rise of the Goatman
Theater For The New City presents Beltsville/Rockville, Part 1: Rise of the Goatman, an original play by Englewood resident Matt Okin (Artistic Director of Black Box Studios), from December 27 through January 13. In this pseudo-Southern Gothic dark comedy, a vibrant group of teens from two very different suburban neighborhoods clash over class differences, drugs, and sex - and the existence of the legendary ‘Goatman’ in 1986. Cut to 2013, and the adolescent kids of those very same teens are struggling to make sense of their family histories - and the same “mythological” creature - that could be holding them back in life.
PHOTOS from "The Winter's Tale" at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey
(MADISON, NJ) -- The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s concludes its 56th season with its sixth and final Main Stage production, The Winter's Tale. Last seen at The Shakespeare Theatre in 2008, Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte directs this production of Shakespeare’s tragicomedic romance. Veteran company members Jacqueline Antaramian, Jon Barker, Erin Partin, John Keabler, Raphael Nash Thompson,Seamus Mulcahy, Patrick Toon, and Ames Adamson are among a cast of 20 actors. Performances run now through December 30. 
REVIEW: "It's A Wonderful Life" At Mile Square Theatre
Nestled in a corner of Hoboken, on the second floor, lies the studios of radio station WMST.  It’s a wonderful art deco studio, replete with fine wooden walls, embedded with colorful lights an applause sign.  On stage, we’ve got a few chairs, several microphones and a whole corner wedged with all the necessary props – piano, men’s shoes, sheet metal – to create the audio effects for the production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Betsy Aidem Puts A Woman's Touch On George Street Playhouse's "A Doll's House, Part 2"
Betsy Aidem is a veteran actress you might have seen on Broadway. Or maybe on an episode of “Law & Order: SVU.” Or maybe on the big screen last year in “The Greatest Showman.” But over the next few weeks in New Brunswick, Aidem is adding a brand-new section to her résumé — by helming a sequel (of sorts) to a classic play that’s more than 100 years old.






Event calendar
Thursday, Jan 17, 2019


MUSIC


Open Mic Night! @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 7:30pm


THEATRE

"Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm


KIDS

AMERICAN GIRL LIVE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:00pm

View all events
























New Jersey Stage © 2019 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.