By Jeff Baron
February 18 - March 12, 2005
Directed by Sara Phoenix
accidents happen every day, but in VISITING MR. GREEN,
a traffic accident causes two worlds to collide.
not choice, brings together a young corporate executive and an elderly Jewish
widower in Jeff Baronís touching comedy, which plays February 18-March 12 in
Stage Centerís arena theater, located at 400 W. Sheridan in downtown Oklahoma
opens on a cluttered New York apartment where old newspapers, piles of unopened
mail and dead flowers are the main dťcor. Itís the home of Mr. Green, an
86-year-old retired dry cleaner and a devout Orthodox Jew, but his life is in as
much disarray as his walk-up apartment. His wife has passed away, and heís
recovering from a fall when he wandered into traffic and was almost hit by a
car. Now, Mr. Green is as closed off as a hermit.
Enter Ross Gardiner, a harried American Express executive and the driver of the
car who has been cited for reckless driving. Ross has been sentenced to six
months of community service and assigned to help Mr. Green once a week. Ross
doesnít want to be there, and cantankerous Mr. Green certainly doesnít want his
help, but when the judge will not budge about the sentence, the two men must try
to deal with each other. Itís a rocky road full of comic bumps and pathos, and
itís unclear if both men will reach the end of the road together.
the weekly visits, the audience learns that under his stylish surface, Ross'
life is also in disarray. Like Mr. Green, he has become a kind of hermit,
gradually shutting down his social life over the past four years. Each man
harbors a secret, and when they open up to each other, their relationship
explodes. Ultimately, VISITING MR. GREEN is about the
pain of discrimination and the power of trust and tolerance.
playwright Jeff Baron's own words:
"They end up playing out a lot of unfinished business each has with his
familyÖ.Theyíve both been keeping a lot inside, and in the course of the visits,
it all explodes."
idea for the story came from one of Baronís friends who volunteered to look
after an elderly man, but Baron set the idea aside for awhile. In the meantime,
his grandmother needed more help living on her own, and he made regular visits
to help her out. After her death, Baron sat down to write his first play and the
character of Mr. Green is based on his grandmother who helped raise him. The
character of Ross was fashioned after himself, as Baron is a Harvard graduate
who was once an American Express up-and-comer. Turning away from the corporate
world, Baron wrote for television and film for several years, and in the
mid-1990s turned to playwriting. His first play, VISITING MR.
GREEN, has brought him national and international recognition, as it has
been performed in 27 counties and 21 languages. It was nominated as Best Play by
the Drama League, and has since received Best Play awards in Israel, Greece,
Germany and Turkey.