(NEW YORK, NY) -- A new play about the decades-long, tempestuous friendship between New Jersey Hall of Fame member Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley will receive an industry reading on Wednesday, May 18, 2022.
The invite-only presentation of A Vicious Circle, written by two-time Edgerton Award winner Jack Canfora (Jericho, Fellow Travelers), will star Jeffrey Bean (Dublin Carol, The Thanksgiving Play) and Eleanor Handley (The Hard Problem, Jericho) as Benchley and Parker respectively. Directed and developed by Heather Arnson (“Here’s to the Ladies Who…” F.I.R.E), the two-hander will be hosted, fittingly, in the newly reopened Algonquin Hotel, with a cocktail hour immediately preceding the reading.
The famed Algonquin Roundtable was where some of the greatest comedic and literary minds of the 20th century held court, and atop that court sat its unrivaled Queen: Dorothy Parker, sporting a deep well of despair hidden beneath a lacerating wit. Of all the notable names at the Roundtable, Parker’s closest friend and confidant was Robert Benchley, as affable as Parker was acerbic. Equally adept at verbal sparring to mask their feelings – even from themselves – “Park Bench” are drawn to each other with a force both irresistible and mortifying in its power, transforming their bond into a source of profound insecurity and disappointment. A Vicious Circle is a witty, heart-breaking dramedy about the ambitions, pride, and loneliness that sharpened the tongues of two of history’s greatest wits.
The reading will feature costume consulting by designer David C Woolard, as well as sound design for the cocktail hour by Lindsay Jones. Evan Bergman is producing.
Jack Canfora (Playwright). Jack’s Off-Broadway plays include Poetic License (59E59 Theaters), hailed by the Associated Press as “White-hot entertainment,” and Jericho (59E59 Theaters, a New York Times’ “Critics’ Pick”). His regional productions include Place Setting (New Jersey Repertory), a 2007 Newark Star Ledger finalist for Best Play alongside work by Teresa Rebeck, Elaine May and Edward Albee; with Harris Yulin, Tennessee Williams: A Life (Guild Hall), featuring Eli Wallach, Harris Yulin and Mercedes Ruehl; Jericho, (NNPN Rolling World Premiere: New Jersey Repertory Company, Phoenix Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, UpstART theater); The Source (NJ Rep); Poetic License (NJ Rep); and Fellow Travelers (Bay Street Theatre), which was optioned by the Shubert Organization for Broadway. Jack is the recipient of two Edgerton Playwriting Awards, for Jericho (2010) and The Source (2018). He won the 2016 Webby Award for Best Writing in a Web Series. Jack is also the Artistic Director of New Normal Rep.
Heather Arnson (Director and Developer). Through Heather’s company, YesAnd Productions: co-creator, producer, writer and director of “Here’s To The Ladies Who…,” a docu-series about the women in the business of Broadway. In her ongoing Creative Director role with Broadway Virtual, Heather spearheaded celebrations and stories on the intimate screens of digital storytelling, through direction and concept creation of 2021 WGA Awards, the American Express Pre-Show Event for the Broaday Inspirational Voices (BIV) Holiday Concert, and digital production direction of “BIV: Season of Hope & Inspiration,” and Roundabout Theatre’s Refocus and Remote Series. Heather has worked with noted artists Ava DuVernay, Rachel Brosnahan, Brett Goldstein, Jason Sudekis, Jon Favreau, Sacha Baron Cohen, Andra Day, Lily Singh, Daveed Diggs, Emerald Fennell, Kal Penn, Dominique Fishback, Amber Ruffin, Jimmy Fallon, Chita Rivera and Patti LuPone. Selected narrative shows: Current: The Lucky Star (Assoc. Dir.), The Two Hander and F.I.R.E. by Julia Blauvelt, Sundogs with Jenn Gambatese and Jordan Bridges, Beau (AD), The Wolves at Lincoln Center (AD), Fellow Travlers (AD), Wasp by Steve Martin, and Elizabeth: Almost by Chance a Woman by Dario Fo.
Jeffrey Bean (Robert Benchley) recently appeared Off-Broadway in Dublin Carol directed by Ciarán O’Reilly at the Irish Repertory Theatre, receiving a 2020 Drama League Award nomination for Distinguished Performance. He also appeared Off-Broadway in The Thanksgiving Play directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel (Playwrights Horizons), and About Alice, an adaptation by Calvin Trillin of his memoir of the same title, directed by Leonard Foglia (Theatre For A New Audience). On television he will next be seen in recurring episodes of “Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin” premiering this summer on HBOmax. He can also be seen on “Billions,” “Lincoln Rhyme,” “The Blacklist,” “The Good Fight” and others. His Broadway credits include the revival of Amadeus directed by Sir Peter Hall and the revival of Bells Are Ringing directed by Tina Landau. He began his professional acting career at Houston’s Alley Theatre where he was a Resident Company member for 24 seasons. At the Alley he performed in over a hundred productions, working with directors as diverse as David Cromer, Pam McKinnon, Jackson Gay, Robert Wilson, and Michael Wilson, among others.
Eleanor Handley (Dorothy Parker). NYC: The Hard Problem (Lincoln Center, dir. Jack O'Brien), Jericho (59E59, dir. Evan Bergman), Limonade Tous les Jours (with Austin Pendleton) and A Christmas Carol (with Dominic Chianese). Company member at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival appearing in Midsummer Night's Dream, Private Lives, Antony & Cleopatra, Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew, Blithe Spirit, Lend Me a Tenor, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Much Ado About Nothing, The Comedy of Errors. Eleanor also spent many seasons at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival in productions of King Lear, The Three Musketeers, Troilus and Cressida, Twelfth Night. Other notable regional credits include Time Stands Still, Witness for the Prosecution (Barrymore nomination), Lost in Yonkers (Barrymore nomination), Rumors and Betrayal. TV: “Unforgettable,” “Royal Pains,” “As the World Turns,” “Twelfth Night.”
David C. Woolard (Costume Designer). Selected Broadway: Dames at Sea, First Date, Lysistrata Jones, West Side Story, 33 Variations (Jane Fonda’s clothing), Dividing the Estate, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Who’s Tommy, Bells Are Ringing, Wait Until Dark, The Young Man from Atlanta, Damn Yankees, A Few Good Men. Other: The Old Friends, Orphans’ Home Cycle (Signature Theatre). Regional: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (La Jolla Playhouse), The Donkey Show (A.R.T.). Opera: Death and the Powers (Opera Monte Carlo), Cold Mountain (Santa Fe Opera premiere). Awards: Drama Desk Award, Henry Hewes Design Award (Orphans’ Home Cycle), 2001 Tony Nomination (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), 1993 Tony and Olivier Award Nominations (The Who’s Tommy).
Lindsay Jones (Original Music and Sound Design). Broadway: Slave Play (Tony nominations for Best Score and Best Sound Design of a Play), The Nap, Bronx Bombers, and A Time to Kill. Off-Broadway: Privacy (The Public Theater), Bootycandy (Playwrights Horizons), Feeding the Dragon (Primary Stages), Top Secret (New York Theatre Workshop) and many others. Regional: Guthrie Theater, Center Stage, American Conservatory Theater, Hartford Stage, Alliance Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Arena Stage, Old Globe Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre and many others. International: Stratford Festival (Canada), Royal Shakespeare Company (England) and many others. Audio drama: A Streetcar Named Desire for Audible, and the award-winning weekly podcast for children The Imagination Neighborhood. Film/TV scoring: HBO Films’ A Note of Triumph (2006 Academy Award for Best Documentary, Short Subject) and over 30 other films. He is the co-chair of Theatrical Sound Designers and Composers Association, and teaches Composition For Theatre and Music History at the University Of North Carolina School Of The Arts.
Evan Bergman (Producer). Butler (59E59), The Director (NY and LA), Bobbi Boland (Broadway), Fellow Travelers (Bay Street). Jane Street Theatre Artistic Director for over 25 productions.