Inis Nua Theatre presents English playwright Monsay Whitney’s Box Clever for its American premiere, directed by Artistic Director Tom Reing. In a women’s shelter in London, headstrong, mouthy and maybe a little crazy Marnie struggles to take care of her four-year-old daughter in a moving and relevant dark comedy. This edgy two-hander stars Inis newcomer Ruby Wolf as Marnie, and Inis alum Rachel Brodeur playing all other roles. Previews begin Wednesday, February 6, with opening night on Friday, February 8. The show runs through February 24, 2019 for a total of 15 performances. All performances will take place at the Louis Bluver Theatre at the Drake, 302 South Hicks Street. Tickets are $25 - $35. For reservations, visit inisnuatheatre.org. Box Clever is part of the return of Philly Theatre Week, presented by Theatre Philadelphia. Please note that while this play is lighthearted at its core, it does tackle some difficult issues including intimate partner violence. For more information ahead of the performance, please contact Inis Nua Theatre.
Marnie’s three useless ex-boyfriends can’t seem to leave her alone. There’s Danny, the father of her daughter. There’s Liam, a junkie who keeps leaving her voicemails. And there’s Stevie, who she calls “an angel” but who calls her a stalker. Add to the mix Fi Fi -- her so-called feminist social worker who follows her around constantly “like a roving mosquito handpicking an arse cheek” and Marnie’s struggle to keep her head above water is just starting. She wants to protect the place she’s secured for herself and her daughter at a women’s home, but it’s an uphill battle full of twists and setbacks that she can’t always control.
Artistic Director Tom Reing draws on his experiences working at Catholic charity group homes to stage the play. He says, “The women were trying to gain independent living for themselves and their children but there were always things stacked up against them.”
Box Clever premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2017. Of that production, Broadway Baby wrote, “Writer Monsay Whitney’s Box Clever is one of the most important shows up at the Edinburgh Fringe this year . . . Whitney’s text is infused with anger, vulnerability, comedy and overwhelming honesty.”
The Arts Desk called it “a work of ferocious honesty and seething anger." Simon Stephens wrote, “Monsay Whitney has the potential to become a startling and significant figure in British theatre.”
Playwright Monsay Whitney is an actress and playwright living in London with her daughter. Her writing career began with the Lyric Young Writers class, and her play Hand to Mouth was developed and shown at the Lyric Hammersmith, and chosen by Simon Stephens as Theatre 503's 'Playwright Presents' scheme. Box Clever is her third play, and her first to have a full run.
Box Clever will be directed by Founding Artistic Director Tom Reing. He has worked for many years bringing new and exciting British works to Philadelphia. He has directed twenty-one American premieres as well as fourteen Philadelphia premieres. He is the recipient of an Independence Fellowship in the Arts, a MidAtlantic Arts Fellowship and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Playwriting Fellowship.
Reing will direct this two-handed starring Ruby Wolf playing Marnie. Just a few years ago when she was a student at NYU Tisch, The Boston Globe raved about her performance of Sally Bowles for Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater: “Ruby Wolf’s star is just starting to rise . . . Hers is a story you’ll want to follow.”
Inis Nua fans will also remember Rachel Brodeur from the U.S. premiere of Hooked! and from Dublin By Lamplight, both directed by Reing. Brodeur will be playing all the other characters Marnie encounters. She’ll also be familiar to Quintessence Theatre audiences, where she played Nina in The Seagull, among other roles.
The technical team is full of Inis Nua favorites. The set will be designed by Meghan Jones (Our Few and Evil Days, The Swallowing Dark, among others) and lighting will be by Andrew Cowles (Our Few and Evil Days, Trousers). Daniel Ison (Our Few and Evil Days) will design sound and Abby Toll (The Monster in the Hall) will stage manage. Longtime Inis Nua collaborators Flannel and Hammer serve as production manager (Lauren Tracy) and technical director (Joe Daniels). Avista Custom Theatrical Services will design props.
New to Inis Nua is costume designer Kathleen Yamaguchi, a graduate of Philadelphia’s Moore College of Art and Design. She recently designed Much Ado About Nothing for Delaware Shakespeare, as well as 1776, Dogfight, To Kill a Mockingbird and Billy Elliot for Media Theatre.
Box Clever opens Friday, February 8, 2019 at 8pm, with preview performances Wednesday, February 6 and Thursday, February 7, at 7pm. It runs for a total of fifteen performances through Sunday, February 24, at 2pm. All performances will take place at the Louis Bluver Theatre at the Drake, 302 South Hicks Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102. South Hicks Street is right next to The Drake apartment building at 1512 Spruce Street.
Events associated with the production are The Takeaway after the Wednesday performances on February 13 and 20. The Takeaway is a post-show exploration of the play’s themes and events by guest scholars and theater practitioners.
Tickets are on sale for $25-$35 by calling (215) 454-9776 or visiting inisnuatheatre.org. To learn more, please like Inis Nua Theatre Company on Facebook and follow @InisNua Theatre on Twitter and @inisnuatheatre on Instagram
ABOUT PHILLY THEATRE WEEK
Box Clever will open during the 2nd Annual Philly Theatre Week, set to return February 7 through 17, 2019. This 10-day celebration features the artists, organizations, and audiences that have made Greater Philadelphia one of the most vibrant theatre regions in the nation. Audiences will have an opportunity to try something new from our theatre community through a series of productions, readings, interactive events, and much more! All events will be free, $15, or $30 and open to the public. For more info visit: http://www.theatrephiladelphia.org
ABOUT INIS NUA THEATRE COMPANY
Inis Nua’s mission is to produce contemporary, provocative plays from Ireland, England,
Scotland and Wales which reflect those cultures’ new identities in today’s world. Inis Nua also seeks to cultivate and produce contemporary, provocative work from American playwrights who deal with the Irish-American, Welsh-American, Scottish-American and Anglo-American experiences.
To date, Inis Nua has produced one world premiere, twenty-one American premieres and
fourteen Philadelphia premieres. Inis Nua Theatre Company has been the recipient of grants from the William Penn Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, the Independence Foundation, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, the Charlotte Cushman Foundation, MKM Foundation, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the Virginia Brown Martin Fund of The Philadelphia Foundation. Inis Nua Theatre has also had nine playwrights visit during production of their shows.