Happy Medium Theatre Presents: DYING CITY by Christopher Shinn

First and foremost, we’d like to extend a very special THANK YOU to the Bob Jolly Charitable Trust. Back in September, we were the recipient of a $500 grant and with that generous donation, we were able to put more into this outstanding project. 

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Happy Medium To Present “Home-Grown Theatre” with Dying City 

(BOSTON) – Happy Medium Theatre (HMT) will invite audiences into their home this summer—literally– when they present Christopher Shinn’s Pulitzer finalist play Dying City. HMT advisory board members and Boston fringe theatre favorites, newlyweds Kiki Samko (2013 Elliott Norton Award, Dog Sees God) and Michael Underhill (IRNE award nominee, Hairy Tales and Knock!) will open their home to audiences for the production, which will run June 17 – July 18, 2015. The play will be performed in the couples’ Jamaica Plain condo, limiting audiences to no more than 20 people per show and promising the most intimate theatrical experience of the year.

When the Factory Theatre– HMT’s home for the past five-plus years–closed its doors in October of 2014, HMT was forced to re-evaluate plans for its Summer 2015 production of Dying City. The play, an intimate piece about war and grief and how these ideas play out in human relationships, had been set for a June/July run at the Factory. Samko plays Kelly, a therapist who lost her husband to the war in Iraq. Underhill plays both that husband, Craig, and his identical twin brother, Peter. The story of the disintegrating relationships among these characters is told via a series of flashbacks punctuating a surprise visit by Peter to Kelly’s apartment. Through subtleties and subtext, we find the devastating truth about what has happened to these individuals.

The idea of homegrown theatre emerged from meetings among director Cameron Cronin, stage manager and HMT founder Mikey DiLoreto, and actors Samko and Underhill. “We met to do a read-through of the script and talk about the uncertain future of the production shortly after the announcement that the Factory would be closing,” Samko says. “The more we thought about it, the more the idea of a really intimate experience made sense. We played with the idea of touring it, like Theatre on Fire’s ‘home invasions’ and performing it in living rooms all over Boston and even got feedback and help from [Theatre of Fire artistic director] Darren Evans. But the more we talked, this play seemed so personal that inviting folks into our home seemed to make the most sense.”

Samko and Underhill are long-time theatrical collaborators, who met working on a show together in 2009 and have been together ever since. They tied the knot last June and purchased their first home together in Jamaica Plain in September.  “The idea just clicked,” said Underhill. “Doing this intensely personal show in our home deepens our connection to the play – and hopefully will do that for the audience too.”

The couple knows the challenges and benefits of working closely together—they’ve been involved in more than 25 productions together over the past six years. But while they’ve worked together for countless hours, this is their most challenging production to date. The two have played strangers, acquaintances, nemeses, friends, and even siblings, but this is their first time playing romantic opposites—and in-laws—and the relationship between Craig and Kelly is nothing like Samko and Underhill’s. “Craig and Kelly are desperately clinging to each other, which is in turn tearing them apart,” Samko says. “They don’t speak the same language. But part of what makes my relationship with Mike work is that we share a vocabulary.”

Dying City is a production not to be missed. It will offer audiences an intimate portrait of a dying relationship struggling to survive, presented by a real-life couple who are thriving in their new marriage and new home. The production will open on the weekend of their one-year anniversary and they cannot think of a better way to celebrate than doing what they love—performing side by side.

Please email mikeydiloreto@gmail.com to receive the address of the Samko/Underhill abode.