First Look: ‘John’ at Road Less Traveled Theatre

When it comes to contemporary theatrical pieces, Road Less Traveled Productions is a trail blazer at finding the newest, hottest content to present in their season line-up. This year alone, Road Less Traveled is producing four contemporary pieces that are some of the most discussed and popular scripts being produced across the country by professional theatre companies. Road Less Traveled kicks off their 2017/ 2018 season with ‘John,’ a comedy written by Annie Baker.

‘John’ tells the story of a couple who stay at a mysterious bed and breakfast, all the while reliving and battling memories, interacting with a strange American Girl doll, and being haunted by their own past. Director David Oliver brings this Western New York Premiere to the Road Less Traveled stage.

“I had been aware of Annie Baker, because she is really hot right now,” says Oliver, who coincidentally will be directing a second Annie Baker piece later this season. “Scott Behrend, the artistic director at Road Less Traveled, offered the show to me, and I was intrigued by the script and the story.”

As mentioned earlier, ‘John’ is just one of four contemporary shows being produced by Road Less Traveled this season. Contemporary shows are not always given a chance in the Buffalo market, because our audiences are accustomed to the tried and true classics that they are familiar with. “Scott really has been pushing these new shows, and is very familiar with what is new and exciting,” says Oliver who also adds that Buffalo is starting to see a younger theatre audience who is familiar with these shows and has an interest in seeing them, “this wasn’t the case five, or ten years ago.”

‘John’ was nominated in 2016 for five Lucille Lortel awards and six Drama Desk Awards. It is safe to say that this show has generated some buzz. “There is a great mystery to the show. The writing is very naturalistic, the situations that are set up are very interesting, but they are not all resolved,” says Oliver, “the back stories of the characters are not elaborated, all questions are not answered, but the show is very cleverly written.”

This might not be the type of show that the traditional Buffalo theatre goer is accustomed too, but Oliver says the audience should meet the playwright half way, and bring an open mind to the  story. “Some audiences are looking for something different, and this is different, but it’s engrossing. The character relationships are exciting and deep. The writing has a great rhythm to it, and there is an interesting supernaturalist element juxtaposed to the everyday reality we can all relate to.” Oliver also adds that audiences will be treated to good quality writing.

When asked what responsibility a director has when mounting a regional premiere, Oliver says that there is nothing special that has to be done, “you need to get the word out about the show since it is not going to be a brand name piece that they are familiar with.”

Starring Darleen Pickering Hummert, Priscilla Young Anker, Sara Kow Falcone and Adam Yellen, “this cast is incredibly talented,” says Oliver.

‘John’ opens September 8, 2017, runs until October 1, 2017 and is presented at Road Less Traveled Theatre in Buffalo. For more information, click here.

Promotional Consideration provided by the Theatre Alliance of Buffalo.