Announcing the event as one that “further reinforces Denizen Theatre’s commitment to bold new works,” New Paltz’s new black-box performance space in the Water Street Market will play host for one night only on Tuesday, June 18 to a lightning rod among contemporary playwrights: Neil LaBute, who will give a reading of his latest stagework, Comfort, with discussion to follow.
Ever since the 1997 movie version of his 1993 play In the Company of Men became a breakout hit at the Sundance Film Festival, controversy has raged as to whether LaBute (dubbed “LaBrute” by one theater critic) is a misogynist, a misanthrope or merely provocative. But few dispute his gift for incisive language, however harsh the dialogue or unappealing the characters in his plays and screenplays may be. His Reasons to Be Pretty received a Best Play Tony nomination in 2009.
Getting LaBute to appear in this small upstate venue during its second season of existence is certainly a coup for Denizen. Comfort is described as exploring the complex relationship between Iris and Cal, a mature mother and her grown son, as they navigate old wounds and miscommunication between the primordial bond of mother and son. The show begins at 8 p.m. on June 18.
A less notorious playwright, Drew Larimore, visits Denizen a week later, on Tuesday, June 25 at 8 p.m., with a reading of a dark comedy that may scandalize some viewers just as much: The Cannibals of McGower County. A 2016 O’Neil Award finalist, the play concerns three women involved in a failing barbecue restaurant in Texas who find a novel way to avenge themselves on a man with a history of domestic abuse when he shows up at their party and goes on a rampage.
Tickets for either reading cost $15 general admission, $5 for students. Both include author talkbacks following the performance. To grab your spot, call the box office at (845) 303-4136 or visit https://ci.ovationtix.com/35097/production/1012998?performanceId=10427037 for Comfort or https://ci.ovationtix.com/35097/production/1013247 for Cannibals of McGower County. For more info on these and other upcoming events at Denizen, visit www.denizentheatre.com/denizen-happenings.