Regional Theater Preview: TRUDY AND MAX IN LOVE (South Coast Rep in Costa Mesa)

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by Tony Frankel on January 2, 2014

in Theater-Regional


Meet Max, a celebrity novelist who is single, and Trudy, a happily married woman who is working on a new novel. They meet in a writer’s room and form a fast friendship that leads to a complicated affair. In the world premiere of her play Trudy and Max in Love, Zoe Kazan explores the question of whether it’s possible to love two people completely. Her smart, insightful and funny look at one contemporary and very complex relationship is the next production at South Coast Repertory, which runs Jan. 5-26, 2014 on the Julianne Argyros Stage.

Charles Isherwood of The New York Times said in his review of Kazan’s first play, Absalom (2009), that it was “the most satisfying production at the 33rd Humana Festival of New American Plays.” SCR Artistic Director Marc Masterson produced Absalom prior to his tenure at South Coast Repertory. He finds her work to be creative and compelling. “Trudy and Max has a lot of her in it,” Masterson said. “She’s writing truthfully about herself and her generation. This is a love story for Zoe’s generation.”


Dramaturge Kimberly Colburn states: “At first glance, Trudy and Max in Love might sound like a conventional romantic comedy, but this play transcends its genre to subvert traditional notions of courting, love, and marriage in the modern world. How much is love a product of physical attraction, how much does it stem from a human need for stability—and what happens to the rest of your life once you’ve made a commitment? What does betrayal mean in a relationship that is itself a betrayal? What are the rules when you start out by breaking them?”

Director Lila Neugebauer says that the play is “disarmingly credible, intelligent and honest.” She sees it as an adult coming-of-age story about two individuals who are innocent and damaged, who endure loss, but grow. “It’s a play about how love changes us: How our idea of love changes so that we can evolve.”

Colburn adds that Kazan has constructed the play “as a series of seemingly innocuous scenes, weaving the fabric of a relationship with threads of the quotidian. The play is evocative of how someone might remember the events that comprise the story of a relationship, recalling pieces of conversations or fragments of a shared moment.

“As a sort of memory play, the action is presented to the audience with no attempt to disguise the nature of the theatrical event we’re witnessing. We see the actors change costumes, shift furniture, and otherwise behaving as hired hands performing a job in between the scenes. Kazan is interested in the theatricality of these choices, exposing the artifice of the theatre construct to parallel the artifice of the world Trudy and Max have constructed for themselves.”

Kazan says her approach to the play was not to write the beginning or ends of scenes in a neat, concrete fashion, but instead to “write the most interesting part” of each scene and let audiences piece together the events of the affair and draw their own conclusions.

South Coast Rep

SCR commissioned Trudy and Max from Zoe Kazan, who is part of a legendary family that includes film and stage director Elia Kazan (her grandfather), and stage and screenwriters Nicholas Kazan and Robin Swicord (her parents). Her second play, We Live Here, was commissioned and produced off-Broadway by Manhattan Theatre Club in 2011. Kazan also is known as an actor, playwright and screenwriter, including her hit indie movie Ruby Sparks. As an actress, she has appeared on Broadway, in the films Ruby Sparks, Revolutionary Road and It’s Complicated and on television in the series Bored to Death.

Michael Weston (Max) was in the off-Broadway productions of Extinction and Snakebit. Aya Cash (Trudy) was recently seen in Seminar at the Ahmanson Theatre. Tate Ellington (Other Man) appeared on Broadway in The Philanthropist and off-off Broadway in Dog Sees God. Celeste Den (Other Woman), the only actor not making her SCR debut, appeared in Death of a Salesman and Chinglish at South Coast Rep. The technical team includes Laura Jelinek, scenic design; Melanie Watnick, costume design; Lap-Chi Chu, lighting design; and Cricket Myers, sound design.

Trudy and Max in Love
South Coast Rep, 655 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa
performances run January 5-26, 2014
low-priced preview performances run Jan. 5-9, 2014
for tickets, call (714) 708-5555 or visit

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