Jeremy Kahn in a scene from Would
Description: Charged as an adult and sentenced to life in prison at 14-years-old, Daniel writes an alternative life with a pen pal; chapter by chapter they fabricate the life he'll never have. A play about happiness, guilt, forgiveness, and hope.
First Produced: 2012
Date Added: 10/5/2012
Content Advisory: NA
Sickness and Mental Illness ·
Social Issues ·
Dysfunctional Families ·
Characters are Mostly Young Adults ·
Small Cast Size
1 Act, 100 Minutes
1 Female, 2 Males
Would is fully protected by copyright law and is subject to royalty. All inquiries concerning production, publication, reprinting or use of this play in any form should be addressed to Rochelle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Original Production Information
Would was first presented on August 12, 2012 as part of the New York International Fringe Festival at the New Ohio Theatre, with the following cast and credits:
Daniel: Jeremy Kahn
Bryan: Dan Wilson
Alexa: Amanda Lipinski
Director: Molly Lyons
Producer: Chelsea Adams
Business Manager: Corinne Eckart
Stage Manager: Ali Parr
Set design: Alexander Woodward
Lighting design: Jeff Glass
Sound design by R.A. Rehberg
Costume design by Rachel Birnbaum
Projection design by Sarah Klein and Brad Bischoff
Would is an extraordinary new play that will rank among the very best at this year's FringeNYC festival. It's inspired by the story of Barry Loukaitis, who at the age of 14 killed his algebra teacher and two fellow students at his school in Moses Lake, Washington (1996). Loukaitis was tried as an adult because of the "seriousness of his crime" and received two life sentences with no possibility of parole. A note in the program tells us that a recent Supreme Court decision found such sentencing to be cruel and unusual punishment for juvenile offenders, but may not have any impact on Loukaitis' own situation.
In Would, we meet Daniel, who, at 21, has already been in prison for a third of his life, and has no prospect for ever getting out. David Marx's excellent script traces two arcs. First, we see Daniel in a series of meetings with Bryan Lakes, a psychology grad student who is interviewing him for his thesis project. Their weekly meetings, unsurprisingly, become something of a lifeline for Daniel, who spends his days working in the prison cafeteria and who, as a cute young white boy (as he himself points out), is a target for violence from other inmates. The relationship between Daniel and Bryan follows a fairly traditional and conventional path here, but that doesn't make it any the less compelling or moving to witness as the two learn about and come to care for one another.
The second track of the play is more unusual. Bryan eventually discovers that Daniel has been corresponding with Alexa, a young girl probably near his own age who started writing to him when she saw him on television at the time of his sentencing. Daniel has filled a notebook with letters they have written to each other that detail an imagined life together. Vicariously through these missives, Daniel experiences many of the things he has missed out on—a first kiss, the prom, a date at the bowling alley.
Marx intersperses the scenes of Daniel and Bryan's meetings with the more expansive vignettes from Daniel's "life" with Alexa. Together they paint a picture of ineffable waste and sorrow, while at the same time reminding us of the truly uplifting powers of imagination and love.
Marx's script is remarkable, stirring, and richly human, an enormously impressive NYC debut. It is matched by a stark, sad, potent performance by Jeremy Kahn as Daniel, who conveys myriad emotions—anger, remorse, loss, despair, and yes, joy—with a simplicity that's staggering and spare. Dan Wilson and Amanda Lipinski complete the cast as Bryan and Alexa, creating characters we empathize with and care about.
Director Molly Lyons has done a great job eliciting deep, thoughtful performances from her cast, but would do well to eliminate all that's extraneous in her staging. But that really amounts to a quibble; what's important to note is that Would is an important, powerful piece of theater that has real profundity and wisdom contained within it. I was deeply moved by this play, and I am excited that it's part of this year's FringeNYC.
reviewed at the 2012 New York International Fringe Festival
I would have been a good therapist.
Yeah? Why’s that?
I know everyone thinks they would be a good therapist. The worst people always do, but I have a good sense of people. I think you have to be pretty fucked up to understand, let alone help fucked up people. I am pretty fucked up. I could help a lot of people.
The worst are the people who act like they understand when they have no clue. You’ll say, “When I was five, my mom went insane one night and stabbed my dog Lucy with a fork.” They go, “Ermm hrmm... Ermmhrmm.” Has their mom stabbed their dog before? No! Of course their mom didn’t stab their dog.
Did your mom-
No, my mom didn’t stab my dog. I am just saying I don’t like people pretending like they can identify with you. Just be honest. I mean you can tell what people are thinking by the questions they ask, just say it.
Sure, sure. I’ll be up-front with you.
Yeah. Like here’s my read on you. Right now I think you are thinking about yourself mostly because you’re nervous, you’ve never done this whole psychologist-prison patient thing, and you don’t want to say something stupid.
Don’t worry there are no wrong answers.
(with a smile)
See, we can both be therapists. You ask a question, then I’ll ask a question
Sure. That’d be good.
Together we’ll solve all of our problems. I’m sure of it.