POW! Drama Book Shop PLAY OF THE WEEK
Up by Bridget Carpenter
With all the furor in the news this year created by fantastic flights (Pixar's Up and Balloon Boy), Bridget Carpenter's new/old play by the same title couldn't be more timely. Originally written and produced in 2002, Up has sprang to prominence this year with its first publishing and a production at Chicago's famed Steppenwolf Theatre. Centering on the Griffin household, Up is a taut family tragicomedy that floats above the earth as the family struggles to leave the ground.
Walter Griffin is failed inventor whose claim to fame is an unauthorized balloon ride in a lawn chair. Carpenter has based Griffin on real life amateur balloonist Larry Walters, whose 1982 jaunt made headlines after he attached 45 helium filled weather balloons to a lawnchair and soared 16,000 feet above San Pedro, California. As the actual Walters took his own life as he sought reclaim his glory, Carpenter's Walter also struggles to find his next flight to greatness. Stuck in the obsession with his past, Walter's relationship with the spirit of famed French high wire walker Philippe Petit has overpowered his relationships with his family. His son Mikey struggles with the rigors and social niceties that come with being a high school sophomore, while his wife Helen strains to keep the family balance, both emotionally and financially, despite Walter's flighty-ness. When Helen forces Walter to take up a 'real job,' something all actors can relate to, and Mikey brings home a pregnant friend, the ties that bind are severely strained as we wait to see if the family will rise above their past.
Full of scenes and monologues for actors young (mid-teens) and older (late 30's-early 40's), Up pulls the pathos into the stratosphere with emotionally charged dialogue and a strong sense of the theatrical (especially the scenes with Petit). For all who've dreamed about soaring above the earth, begin your flight with this play.
Cast: 3M / 3F
Scenes/Monologues: Many, including monologues for actors young (mid-teens) and older (late 30's-early 40's)
Recommended by: Ben