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Friday, October 15, 2021

‘The Book Club Play’ brings laughs, introspection to IRT

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After the past 18 months, Janet Allen, artistic director for Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT), thought we could all use a laugh. To lighten the mood, the IRT brought “The Book Club Play” to the stage.

Depicting a book club being filmed for a documentary, playwright Karen Zacarias’ “The Book Club Play” centers on six characters, including one married couple. Once the wine starts flowing, secrets are spilled, and hard-hitting conversations begin. Despite being a comedy, the production hits on issues surrounding race and sexual orientation, along with marital issues.

Allen said “The Book Club Play” was a great way to celebrate crowds being back in theaters while simultaneously reflecting on the social issues highlighted during the social justice protests of 2020.

“We often open up our season with some big classical art piece, before COVID,” Allen said. “We decided to wipe the slate clean and open with something fun and insightful. We thought laughing was a great way to draw the community together to look at human fragility.”

Unlike many IRT productions, “The Book Club Play” is recommended for adult audiences only. This is a hybrid performance, so audiences have the option of seeing it live in the theater or through a virtual screening. For those attending in person, either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test no older than 72 hours is required at the door. Masks are required throughout the entirety of the performance.

For Allen, “The Book Club Play” is a reminder of why she got into theater: human interaction.

“It’s been nothing short of glorious,” Allen said of the production, which opened Oct. 6. “Last year, we watched actors have to make it work with no audience reaction. … It was dystopian. It’s a beautiful day to have audiences back in the theater to laugh and clap and gasp with us, all the stuff we’ve missed.”

Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.

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