IF YOU GO
What: Father and adult children work through their issues
When: 8 p.m. Wed. - Sat.; 3 p.m. Sun. through
Where: 1055 N. Collier Blvd. Marco Island
Cost: $25 & $23
Information: Call 642-7270 or themarcoplayers.com
Something Else: The theater is located in the Marco Town Center Mall next to Marco Island Brewery.
On the Web: More theater news at The Stage Door blog
Beverly Dahlstrom found Zoe Kazan entirely by accident. Marco Island audiences will too. Kazan's sharp play "Absalom," about an angry father and the knotty relationship with his adult children, opens the Marco Players season this week.
Dahlstrom, president and artistic director of the Marco Players, was channel-surfing one night, stumbled onto one of Kazan's films and was hooked. Granddaughter of "On the Waterfront" director Elia, Kazan, 30, has been carving a career in front of and behind the camera for a decade.
"There she was," Dahlstrom said. "I don't even remember the title but knew I had to do more research on her."
Kazan began writing "Absalom" while a college student at Yale; the play premiered at the 2009 Humana Festival of New American Plays. A family gathers in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts to celebrate publication of their father's latest book. In the course of one day, everything comes together - and then falls apart.
"I really liked the play when I read it," Dahlstrom said. "I liked the material, the storyline. Everyone can identify with a family in crisis."
Kazan juggles multiple themes with ease - jealousy, entitlement, money, favoritism, even intellectual property. Directors can spin the play's intricate gears a half-dozen ways with choices in casting and staging.
The crux of "Absalom" finds writer Saul forced to choose between his adult children over rights to one of his landmark novels. Long-ago hurts, betrayals, lies and hidden relationships come into play.
"Every audience member can strongly identify at least one character they know intimately," Dahlstrom said.
Veteran Richard E. Joyce helms the show for the Marco Players with a strong cast that includes a mix of veterans and newcomers.
"They are all so natural, so comfortable on stage," Dahlstrom said, praising the ensemble for meshing in the play's family scenes.
Popular Marco Island physician Joe Lang returns as scheming adopted brother Cole. Lang co-starred in "Visiting Mr. Green" and "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" at the Naples Players last fall. Familiar faces Rich Nepon and Greg Madera join Lang on stage, along with Alexis Michel Angelo, Valentina Cioce and Jesse Heindl.
"He looks just like Johnny Depp," Dahlstrom promised me of Heindl.
"Absalom" offers something for almost anyone. The characters should seem familiar to audiences - who likely struggled with the same issues with their own brothers, sisters, in-laws and especially parents.
"There's conflict between everyone in the play," Dahlstrom said. "You see that in a lot of families. The resentment. The anger."
The play, constructed in four taut scenes, hinges on the relationships between the various siblings. The moments between adopted son Cole and eldest brother Adam - and the final twist may leave audiences in shock.
"Audiences will get it," Dahlstrom declared confidently. "If they don't, they're going to go back and ask themselves what they missed."