The bus stop of destiny: Tivoli’s Tangent Theatre Company to stage The Vandal

Jill Van Note and Michael Rhodes in The Vandal (photo by Deborah Lopez Lynch)

Jill Van Note and Michael Rhodes in The Vandal (photo by Deborah Lopez Lynch)

Hamish Linklater, author of the new play set in Kingston titled The Vandal, was born to the theatrical life, and his star is definitely on the rise. His mother Kristin Linklater – a top vocal coach with many famous clients, and currently chair of Acting in Columbia University’s Theatre Arts Division – was one of the founders of Shakespeare & Company in the Berkshires. So young Hamish started playing kids in Shakespeare plays from the age of 8 on.

Now 37, Linklater has become familiar to TV audiences as a recurring cast member of Gideon’s Crossing, American Dreams, The New Adventures of Old Christine, The Big C, The Newsroom and currently The Crazy Ones. Onstage, he has appeared at such prestigious venues as Playwrights’ Horizons and Shakespeare in the Park in New York City and at Long Wharf in New Haven. He got good notices for his 2011 Broadway debut in Theresa Rebeck’s Seminar, playing a talented-but-insecure young writer who must stand up to the withering criticism of a jaundiced former literary lion terrifyingly portrayed by Alan Rickman. Being able to hold his own in such formidable company is persuasive evidence that the guy must be pretty good.

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Now Linklater is sticking a toe in the authorial waters himself: The Vandal is his first outing as a playwright, and its upcoming production by Tivoli’s Tangent Theatre Company will be only its second; the Off-Broadway company the Flea Theater premiered the play last year. Described as a “dark comedy” and set primarily at a Kingston bus stop on a cold night, The Vandal is a story of lost souls intersecting.

Based in Tivoli since 2009, the up-and-coming Tangent company is known as much for its “pub theatre” playreadings at the Black Swan [now called the Traghaven Whiskey Pub] as for its more elaborate mainstage productions at the nearby Carpenter Shop Theater, and has made a mission of seeking character-driven works to put on. “I knew instantly this play would be our next production. I love the ideas explored in it, the quiet struggles of these lost characters and their search for connection and meaning,” says Tangent’s artistic director Michael Rhodes, who will co-star with Jill Van Note and Samuel Hoeksema.

Rhodes and Van Note have appeared together in two previous Tangent productions: John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt in 2010 and the NEWvember New Plays Festival in 2012. Rhodes was also featured in Tangent’s American premiere of Christian O’Reilly’s The Good Father in 2012.

Amy Lemon Olson – best-known in these parts for her work with Poughkeepsie’s Half Moon Theatre Company, notably last year’s acclaimed production of David Lindsay Abaire’s Good People – will direct The Vandal. “I felt this play in particular could use a female voice, and she’d be perfect to take the helm,” says Rhodes. “She understands the complexities of these characters and the many layers at work in the story.”

The Tangent Theatre Company’s production of Hamish Linklater’s maiden voyage as a playwright will open next Thursday and run for four weeks. Performances of The Vandal begin at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, with 3 p.m. matinées on Sundays. Tickets are a steal at $20, and can be obtained by calling (845) 230-7020 or by visiting https://tangent-arts.org.

Hamish Linklater’s The Vandal, Thursdays-Saturdays, March 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, 27-29, 8 p.m., Sundays, March 9, 16, 23 & 30, 3 p.m., $20, Tangent Theatre Company, Carpenter Shop Theater, 60 Broadway, Tivoli; (845) 230-7020, https://tangent-arts.org.

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