Meet Mrs. Whitney 

Love may be a force of nature, but can you really go back and reclaim that one “lost” love? That’s what playwright John Kolvenbach questions in his play “Mrs. Whitney,” making its world premiere at the Magic Theatre.

Kolvenbach, a prolific writer who has garnered significant buzz for his hard-hitting, humorous work, takes bold, inventive leaps in his material.

Expect “Mrs. Whitney,” which he also directs, to dive deep as it provokes laughs in a story that chronicles what happens to a cynical empty-nester who decides to follow her heart.

The play’s main character, the fiftysomething Mrs. Whitney, actually originated in another Kolvenbach play, “Goldfish,” which is running in repertory with this show at the Magic.

Hoping to explore some of Whitney’s quirks in another venture — technically, a sequel — he set the play five years after “Goldfish.”
There’s an ex-husband and a next-door neighbor to contend with, but most of all, there’s heartbreak, which unravels in an amusing way.

“I hope it’s funny,” Kolvenbach jokes. “The play basically tells us that love makes fools of us all. I hope what’s funny about it, from the viewer’s perspective, is that you are recognizing yourself in the character. You see their foibles and their struggles; how ridiculous love can make us and how silly it can render us.”

Kolvenbach admits that his main love may be writing itself.

Inspired by the likes of Chekhov, Beckett, David Reed and Tracy Letts, he rose from the success of 2002’s “On an average day,” which starred Woody Harrelson and Kyle MacLachlan on London’s West End, and has steadily evolved creatively ever since.

“I love it for the sound of it,” he says of playwriting. “I go to theater for the words. I love the sound and the voices. I listen to a lot of baseball on the radio and talk-radio people talking. I love to hear dialogue; the written word spoken.”

He also digs pondering human relations. “You can explore in a play what it is between us. In theater, you get to delve into what it is to be with another person.”

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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