From left: Carl Schurr, Wil Love and John Dow star in Everyman… (Handout photo by Stan Barouh )
Three men in a home for aging veterans yearn for a taste of life beyond the institution's grounds. They want to soar right out of there, like the geese in a V-formation they can see overhead.
Those World War I veterans are the sole characters in "Heroes," the Tom Stoppard-translated comedy by Gerald Sibleyras that opens Friday at Everyman Theatre. The production can't help but take on extra significance.
It's the company's last scheduled staging at the Charles Street location where Everyman has been based since 1994. If all goes according to plan, the next show, come January, will be downtown on Fayette Street in a newly renovated venue — the former Town Theatre — with much finer facilities.
"There's something bittersweet about those three old veterans in 'Heroes' wanting to escape and head out to unknown regions," says Wil Love, a resident company member who plays one of the roles. "You can see a parallel to Everyman leaving these confines and going to a higher and better place."
The trip to Fayette Street was supposed to have been completed by now. That's why company artistic director Vincent Lancisi chose to end last season on Charles Street with the vintage comedy "You Can't Take It With You," a good title for a parting shot.
But about a year ago, it became evident that the new facility would not be completed in time for the start of the 2012-2013 lineup, so plans were made for a split season — the first two plays on Charles Street, the remaining four on Fayette.
Lancisi decided that "Heroes," which had a successful debut in London in 2005, would fit the Charles Street swan song function.
"It's all about what's important in life, how we survive and how we laugh," Lancisi said. "It's three men on a bench telling a funny story and reflecting on their rich lives."
"Heroes," which doesn't need a fancy set, puts all the emphasis where Lancisi likes it.
"When we first came into the Charles Street building, we did not have two nickels to rub together," he said. "But we created an aesthetic that relied on the actors; they were the core of everything we did. So I thought it would be nice to end our run here with this very funny play featuring some of this region's finest acting talent."
Among Love's credits at Everyman is a beautifully nuanced performance as the Stage Manager in "Our Town" a few years ago. He is joined in "Heroes" by fellow resident artist Carl Schurr, whose contributions to the company include a searing portrayal of the father in "All My Sons."
Completing the lineup is John Dow, a well-regarded guest artist with the company in 2000 and again last season in "You Can't Take It With You."
The three men have found "Heroes" a welcome challenge.
"There is no fat in the script," Dow said. "It's absolutely not maudlin, and there really are no cheap laughs at all. Each character has his own handicap, but they all feel that it's not over yet. They can still go on."
There's a touch of nostalgia about being a part of the Everyman cast at the Charles Street theater, with its low ceilings and sight-line-challenge pillars.
"It's always fun to see how they deal with those pillars each time," Schurr said. "It's amazing what they've done each time. I've got many memories of doing shows here with an incredibly talented and pleasant group of people."
If you go
"Heroes" opens Friday and runs through Dec. 2 at Everyman Theatre, 1727 North Charles St. Tickets are $10 to $50. Call 410-752-2208 or go to everymantheatre.org.
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