Out of the shadows

The Shadow Box centres on three terminally ill people who are living their final days in hospice cottages, and their support people

The Shadow Box centres on three terminally ill people who are living their final days in hospice cottages, and their support people

She was one of three weird sisters in Unity Theatre’s 2017 production of Macbeth and now Elizabeth Boyce plans a return to the theatre to direct Unity’s next show, The Shadow Box. Boyce will hold auditions for parts in the Unity production of Michael Cristofer’s multiple award winning play later this month.

The Shadow Box takes place over 24 hours in three separate cottages on the grounds of a large hospital in the US. Within the three cabins are the three patients who have reached the end of their treatment and are now expected to live with their respective families. As part of a psychological scheme they have agreed to, they live within the hospital grounds and have interviews with a psychiatrist.

The Shadow Box centres on Joe, Brian, and Felicity, three terminally ill people who are living their final days in hospice cottages, and their support people. Roles are available for three men, four women and a teenage boy.

There is also an interviewer who can be either male or female.

Joe is an earthy, early middle-aged working man who looks back on his life and wonders what it was all about. Brian is a charming intellectual and would-be writer who deals with his terminal diagnosis by thinking and talking about it.

He is also trying to do everything he ever wanted to do before he goes.

Felicity is an older woman who has only partial contact with reality. She slips between feisty lucidity and a past/present coloured by dementia.

Maggie is Joe’s wife, who hasn’t seen him in six months and is in denial about the seriousness of his illness. The couple’s teenage son Steve doesn’t know his dad is dying but is excited to see his dad after a long absence.

Mark is Brian’s younger lover and the key to Brian’s emotional balance, The effort though has Mark on the edge of breakdown.

Brian’s ex-wife, Beverly, is a sexy, wild woman who needs to get drunk before she visits Brian to say farewell.

Felicity’s daughter and caretaker, Agnes, lives in the shadow of her more exciting sister.

The interviewer begins as an offstage voice who represents the hospice facility. He or she offers the characters and their families an opportunity to talk about what they’re going through.

Partway through the play the interviewer enters to conduct interviews. He/she is detached but kind.

Cristofer’s ground-breaking play won a Tony Award for Best Play and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1977.

“I first saw The Shadow Box in 1978, one year after it opened on Broadway,” says Boyce.

“It had a strong effect on me, theatrically and personally. I’d have to say it was one of the first times I thought of death and dying as a reality we all have in common. Also, that you’re not dead if you’re dying — if that makes sense.”

She paraphrases Brian, who factors in the philosophy that if he is dying, he must still be alive. Along with her role as a witch in Macbeth last year, Boyce performed in Unity Theatre’s 2015 production of Death of a Salesman, and directed the one-act play Towpath in 2016.

  • Auditions for The Shadow Box will be held at Unity Theatre, 209 Ormond Road on May 26 at 1pm. Perusal scripts will be available at the iSite from Monday.

She was one of three weird sisters in Unity Theatre’s 2017 production of Macbeth and now Elizabeth Boyce plans a return to the theatre to direct Unity’s next show, The Shadow Box. Boyce will hold auditions for parts in the Unity production of Michael Cristofer’s multiple award winning play later this month.

The Shadow Box takes place over 24 hours in three separate cottages on the grounds of a large hospital in the US. Within the three cabins are the three patients who have reached the end of their treatment and are now expected to live with their respective families. As part of a psychological scheme they have agreed to, they live within the hospital grounds and have interviews with a psychiatrist.

The Shadow Box centres on Joe, Brian, and Felicity, three terminally ill people who are living their final days in hospice cottages, and their support people. Roles are available for three men, four women and a teenage boy.

There is also an interviewer who can be either male or female.

Joe is an earthy, early middle-aged working man who looks back on his life and wonders what it was all about. Brian is a charming intellectual and would-be writer who deals with his terminal diagnosis by thinking and talking about it.

He is also trying to do everything he ever wanted to do before he goes.

Felicity is an older woman who has only partial contact with reality. She slips between feisty lucidity and a past/present coloured by dementia.

Maggie is Joe’s wife, who hasn’t seen him in six months and is in denial about the seriousness of his illness. The couple’s teenage son Steve doesn’t know his dad is dying but is excited to see his dad after a long absence.

Mark is Brian’s younger lover and the key to Brian’s emotional balance, The effort though has Mark on the edge of breakdown.

Brian’s ex-wife, Beverly, is a sexy, wild woman who needs to get drunk before she visits Brian to say farewell.

Felicity’s daughter and caretaker, Agnes, lives in the shadow of her more exciting sister.

The interviewer begins as an offstage voice who represents the hospice facility. He or she offers the characters and their families an opportunity to talk about what they’re going through.

Partway through the play the interviewer enters to conduct interviews. He/she is detached but kind.

Cristofer’s ground-breaking play won a Tony Award for Best Play and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1977.

“I first saw The Shadow Box in 1978, one year after it opened on Broadway,” says Boyce.

“It had a strong effect on me, theatrically and personally. I’d have to say it was one of the first times I thought of death and dying as a reality we all have in common. Also, that you’re not dead if you’re dying — if that makes sense.”

She paraphrases Brian, who factors in the philosophy that if he is dying, he must still be alive. Along with her role as a witch in Macbeth last year, Boyce performed in Unity Theatre’s 2015 production of Death of a Salesman, and directed the one-act play Towpath in 2016.

  • Auditions for The Shadow Box will be held at Unity Theatre, 209 Ormond Road on May 26 at 1pm. Perusal scripts will be available at the iSite from Monday.

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