Monday, November 21, 2022


Last night, I saw Bruce Norris's new play Downstate, which is running at Playwrights Horizons with an absolutely amazing cast.

I went primarily to see Susanna Guzman, who I met when she was in my play Foggy Bottom at the Abingdon Theatre Company. Since then, her career has taken off, including a recurring role on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

In Downstate, she plays a parole officer named Ivy who manages among her other "clients" four convicted sex offenders living in a group home in downstate Illinois. Fred, played by Francis Guinan, is the oldest of the four, and cannot get around without the aid of a wheelchair. At the beginning of the play, he is confronted by one of his former victims, though nothing in that interview goes the way anyone involved expects it to.

That's one of the great things about the play. No matter what our pre-conceived notions about sexual abuse might be, the characters upend them. That's particularly true for Dee, Fred's housemate and caregiver, played by K. Todd Freeman (an accomplished stage actor, though I know him best as Mr. Trick from Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Both Fred and Dee formerly abused boys, which makes their housemate Gio (played by Glenn Davis) look down on them, since he "made a mistake" with a teenage girl, which in his mind puts him in a completely different category.

The fourth housemate, Felix, is generally played by Eddie Torres, but last night the understudy, Matthew J. Harris, had to step into the role. Harris was excellent (as understudies usually are) and his tense scene with Guzman in the first act had the audience on the edge of our seats.

I don't want to give away too much of the plot, so go see it for yourself. Trust me, you won't be sorry.