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Plays together: Married playwrights debut two new comedies

Family theater: Greg Kotis and his wife Ayun Halliday will debut their two new plays, “Lunchtime” and “Zamboni Godot,” at the Brick on March 2 and 3.
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Here are a couple of playwrights you should see.

A theatrical family will launch two new comedies at the Brick theater in Williamsburg next week. Greg Kotis, known for his Tony-winning musical “Urinetown,” wrote and directs “Lunchtime,” opening March 3, while his wife, playwright Ayun Halliday, wrote and directs “Zamboni Godot,” opening March 2. Halliday also stars in her husband’s play, and she says that going from a director and spouse to an actor has led to a few challenges.

“I always have to remember to bite my tongue, that I’m not the director,” she said. “I have my own personal ideas about what everybody in ‘Lunchtime’ should be doing. If Greg has an idea, I don’t get to argue with him the way I would about how to load the dishwasher.”

But their closeness also makes it easier to convey the meaning in the script.

“I’ve known Greg over 20 years, and to be so familiar with his voice and the kind of jokes he thinks are funny,” said Halliday. “It’s fun, I’m thrilled to be in one of his shows.”

“Lunchtime” is an absurdist comedy about an office love triangle, made difficult by mundane difficulties like high rents and bad transportation, and made worse when some punk starts vandalizing city salad bars — ruining the most beloved time of the day, said Kotis.

Halliday plays an office manager who is having an affair with her boss. The show also stars the theatrical couple’s teenage son, Milo Kotis, who plays a waiter-turned-bike messenger with dreams of joining the police force.

Kotis said he got the idea for “Lunchtime” when he first moved to the city — he was working as a temp, and lunch was the best part of his day, he said.

“Just being in that environment, it’s isolating, you don’t know anybody. It always feels like the first day on the job, how important a lunch hour is in that kind of work,” said Kotis.

Vandalizing a salad bar seemed like one of the most upsetting things that could happen — so of course it makes for great drama, said Kotis.

“Just thinking about what’s the most violent thing that can happen in this kind of environment,” he said.

Halliday’s “Zamboni Godot,” riffs on “Waiting for Godot,” the existential play about two men waiting for someone who never arrives. Playwright Samuel Beckett insisted that the show only star male actors, but Halliday’s version casts two women in the central roles, and has an all-female chorus to act out the humorous storyline.

Both plays are comedies, but each offers a different experience, said Halliday.

“Mine is a little more weird, a little more downtown, and his is a more accessible format,” she said. “I think it’s possible to like them both, but they are very different flavors.”

The two playwrights are excited to plunge full-time into theater over the next three weeks, said Kotis.

“For the past 19 years or so we’ve been parents principally, and then we tried to do theater whenever we can,” he said. “We’re really proud of it and we’re excited to be playing at the Brick, which is this really kind of magical place tucked away in Williamsburg where great work is happening all the time.”

“Lunchtime” and “Zamboni Godot” at the Brick [579 Metropolitan Ave. between Union Ave. and Lorimer St. in Williamsburg, www.theater-of-the-apes.com]. March 2–18 at various times. $18 ($30 for both shows).

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Posted 12:00 am, February 27, 2017
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