‘My Brilliant Divorce’ took winding route to reach stage in Denver

One-woman show is treat for audiences at Avenue Theater

Posted 9/18/17

Longtime Highlands Ranch resident Richard Pegg, who grew up and was trained in the UK, has been involved in 193 theatrical productions in Colorado: as director, set designer and three times in small parts as an actor, he said. When such a person …

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‘My Brilliant Divorce’ took winding route to reach stage in Denver

One-woman show is treat for audiences at Avenue Theater

Posted

Longtime Highlands Ranch resident Richard Pegg, who grew up and was trained in the UK, has been involved in 193 theatrical productions in Colorado: as director, set designer and three times in small parts as an actor, he said. When such a person travels, he of course attends theater productions. “A play that’s been on my bucket list for 13 years is now in production at the Avenue Theater!” he wrote to us recently. “My Brilliant Divorce” is running in Denver through Oct. 14.

While in London, he enjoyed “My Brilliant Divorce,” by Geraldine Aron, starring Dawn French — a one-woman play with “40 pages of dense script.” He initially thought of it as a vehicle for skilled actress Paige Larson, who operated Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden with husband Rick Bernstein. They loved it, but thought the script needed some adjustments for an American audience.

Pegg contacted the publisher of the English version, Samuel French, who said it was not available through them. Nor was it available from Dramatists, the other main U.S. play publisher with rights for plays. In 2007, an Americanized version came to Pegg, directly from the playwright, and Pegg renewed his option on it and started to rehearse with Larson. The he got an email rescinding the rights because a New York producer had taken a five-year option on the play — an offer Geraldine couldn’t turn down.

Forward to late 2013, the rights were again available, but Rick and Paige had decided to sell Miners Alley and move to West Virginia. Other small theaters were reluctant to take on a one-woman show.

“I even looked at producing it myself at the Aurora Fox, where I had directed `Red Hot Patriot’” (about journalist Molly Ivins). It is still showing at spots across the nation with local actress Rhonda Brown, Pegg said.

“As happens with so many shows/scripts, theaters become unavailable, scheduling conflicts arise, stars become detached, etc., etc. An endless cycle of triumphs and failures …”

“In late 2016, I had the Avenue as the venue, with an award-winning actress, Emma Messenger very keen to play the role … The Avenue’s landlords (a nonprofit board) threw a spanner into the works! This caused then-Executive Director John Ashton to throw in the towel too, so our planned production with Emma evaporated as well. “

He renegotiated with present Executive Director Dave Shirley, but by then, Messenger was not available — and is booked for the next year … Pegg focused on Dave’s wife, Jane Shirley, also a brilliant actress, best known for improv comedy.

She is indeed “brilliant” in bringing the complicated tale of an American trying to divorce a Brit, impersonating a number of characters she deals with, and not missing a beat. The show is enhanced by some well-done projection work, a simple set and well-timed sound effects. It offers an entertaining diversion for the audience, who found much to laugh about when we attended.

If you go

“My Brilliant Divorce” by Geraldine Aron plays through Oct. 15 at the Avenue Theater, 417 17th Ave., Denver. Performances: 7:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays; 4 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $27.50.

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