The Broadway production Other Desert Cities isn't child-friendly. But then again, oftentimes, neither is family life. And it's the push and pull between those bound by blood that playwright Jon Robin Baitz magnifies in this politically charged finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, which will make its state debut at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.
"This is one of the best plays I've ever worked on," says Scott RC Levy, the museum's director of performing arts. "I worked very hard to get the rights to do it."
Of course, as anybody who's related to anybody else will tell you, there are harder things. Like having a rebellious son — literally, a political revolutionary — commit suicide; or having a daughter fill her memoir with that which is not be remembered; or the constant presence of a critical adult sister living in the next bedroom. All are facets that come to a head one holiday.
"High anxiety, of that virulent strain that erupts at Christmas when grown children visit their parents, is what fuels Cities, which is set in the desert-toned, tastelessly tasteful digs of Lyman and Polly Wyeth in Palm Springs, Calif., in 2004," wrote the New York Times in its 2011 review. "... But Mr. Baitz is looking deeper and more clearly into Mom and Dad than he did before. He's not just giving the devils their due; he's also suggesting that they may not be all that satanic."
Other Desert Cities speaks to the wars we fight in our homes, says Levy, which can be just as impactful, or damaging, as those fought out in the world. As well: "The play takes place in a very specific place and a very specific time," he says. "The audience becomes a Peeping Tom into the living room."
The production continues the FAC Theatre Company's impressive stretch of provocative pieces, including last year's Assassins, and In the Next Room, or the vibrator play, itself a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. And like in the case of the latter, which also saw a Colorado audience for the first time at the FAC, the director's stoked about what being in front can mean.
"It's a new play," says Levy of Cities. "Doing it first puts the Springs on the map. We're a groovin' place for theater."