When a couple decides to spice up their marriage, things don’t quite go as planned. Joan and Patrick Brisby decide to invite gigolo Brock to their home. When he arrives, they start having second thoughts about his presence. Complicating matters is the arrival of teenage daughter Jenna, who is planning her own rendezvous with boyfriend Ryan, plus the arrival of Joan’s sleepwalking sister.
That’s the plot behind the aptly titled farce, “Cuckoo.” Written by University of Houston senior Troy Loftin and directed by School of Theatre & Dance (SOTD) professor Rob Shimko, the play will be performed Nov. 20 – 22 in the University’s Studio 208 (second floor of the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts). Tickets are $10, $15 and $20 and can be purchased online or at the SOTD box office (first floor in the Mitchell Center building).
Show times and dates are as follows:
- 7:30 p.m., Nov. 20, 21
- 1:30 p.m., Nov. 21, 22
“Cuckoo” contains strong language and adult situations and is recommended for mature audiences. Cast members include Casey Magin as Joan Brisby, Will Inman as Patrick Brisby, Bonnie Langthorn as Jenna Brisby, Alex Zuniga as Ryan, Josh Eguia as Brock and Merritt Weirick as Anne.
Each fall, Shimko works with a senior playwright to develop his or her work for the stage. Plays begin development during the spring semester with guidance from acclaimed writer and UH Distinguished Visiting Professor of Playwriting Theresa Rebeck. Together, Shimko and Rebeck select one full-length play to be produced as part the UH School of Theatre & Dance’s performance season.
“Cuckoo,” said Loftin, was inspired after assisting as a dramaturg on the school’s production of George Feydeau’s farce “Paradise Hotel.”
“Something really clicked,” Loftin said. “I hadn’t really read or seen a comedy like this on stage. I really liked it. It seemed like these kinds of comedies became out of vogue.”
Shimko added that farces such as “Cuckoo” are difficult to write, so it’s rare to see them on the stage. “Cuckoo,” however, reflects Loftin’s ability to craft a clever and original plot.
“Many plays in the genre were inspired by previous works. A lot of the classic farce ‘misunderstandings’ have been done already,” Shimko said. “The exciting thing about ‘Cuckoo’ is that it’s a genuinely new farce premise.”
Audiences will enjoy the finished version of “Cuckoo,” which Loftin has seen evolve over the course of the year. Like any play, “Cuckoo” has been through workshops, readings and rewrites. The process can be daunting for any artist, but Loftin appreciates the opportunity to polish his work before public consumption.
“Having a full-length play under my belt is amazing,” Loftin said. “I am grateful to have had the time to work on this, so I can submit it to festivals around the country and share it with audiences in other cities. It’s been the best creative exercise in all of my four years at UH.”
Loftin is the fourth student playwright who has premiered a play during the School of Theatre & Dance’s performance season. Previous student plays that premiered on UH stages include Kendall Kaminsky’s “The End of Side A” (2014), Vic Shuttee’s “Brick Wall” (2013) and Richard Sabatucci’s “The Narrator” (2012).
“Cuckoo” is just one of Loftin’s projects. He is working on another play as part of his Honors College curriculum, and in the spring, he’ll collaborate with Rebeck on a television pilot for his capstone course.
The production of a student play each fall complements the School of Theatre & Dance’s other efforts to develop young writers. The school offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Playwriting and Dramaturgy. Students not only work closely with award-winning writer Rebeck but also participate in the annual 10-Minute Play Festival. The festival spotlights submissions from UH students and playwrights from around the globe. Visit the school’s Playwriting and Dramaturgy website for more details on the program.
The UH School of Theatre & Dance offers bachelor’s and master's degrees in theatre and teacher certifications in dance and theatre. Its graduate program consists of a Master of Arts in theatre and Master of Fine Arts in theatre with specializations in acting, technical production and design. Alumni include actors Jim Parsons, Dennis Quaid, Brett Cullen, Robert Wuhl and Dylan Paul. Faculty includes Tony Award-winning producer Stuart Ostrow, Tony-nominated designer Kevin Rigdon and award-winning playwright and screenwriter Theresa Rebeck. Among the greats who have taught at the school are Sidney Berger, Edward Albee, Lanford Wilson, Mark Medoff, Sir Peter Hall, Jose Quintero, Patsy Swayze and Cecil Pickett. In 2012 and 2013, the school was named “Best College Theater” in the Houston Press Theater Awards. For details on UH's School of Theatre & Dance, visit www.theatredance.uh.edu.