'Hapgood' at Willamstown Theatre Festival: Motherhood, spies and Tom Stoppard


WILLIAMSTOWN -- Two parts Cold War spy thriller, two parts love story, two parts quantum physics lesson and two parts duality, Tom Stoppard's "Hapgood" gives audiences the chance to dive into the world of espionage and motherhood.

Directed by Obie and Lu cille Lortel Award-winner Evan Yionoulis, the Wil liams town Theatre Festival production -- which opened Thursday on the Nikos Stage, where it is schedued to run through July 21 -- heralds the return of two-time Tony Award winning actress Kate Burton for her 18th season.

After spending the last three years acting on two hit television series, "Grey's An atomy" and "Scandal," it was going to take an epic role to bring Burton out of hiatus, but when artistic director Jenny Gersten told her about Yionoulis, Burton was on board.

"There are very few parts I've really wanted to play that I haven't already and Hap good has been at the top of that list for some time," Burton said in an interview with The Berkshire Eagle. "It's an intense role, but fortunately I've known I was going to play her for quite some time and started researching the role about five weeks before rehearsals."

Filled with treacherous twins and a cast of characters that may be double-, triple- or perhaps even quadruple agents, Hapgood is tested to her wits end when a Russian physicist defector, Kerner, (played by Jake Webber), is involved in a ballet of information-dealing inside the men's changing room at a public swimming pool.

It's up to Hapgood to de cipher which side Kerner, and the rest of the alleged spies in the show, are actually playing for.

"I told myself that I was going to do the stuff that really scares me," Burton said. "Stoppard lays it all out for you, the roadmap is there you just have to sink your teeth into it."

Yionoulis said audience members won't have to have any prior knowledge about physics or the Cold War to enjoy the show.

"It's an amazing play with an equally amazing cast, and it operates on so many levels," Burton said. "At the core, it's really a story of a single mom trying to be a brilliant professional at the top of her game and at the same time a good mother."

In typical Stoppard fashion, the play is riddled with faux pas and comedic moments in the style of Mel Brooks.

"Come see us and you'll be surprised," Burton said. "It's a big ride, stay in the car, it'll take you to a wonderful place."

On stage

What: “Hapgood” by Tom Stoppard. Directed by Evan Yionoulis

Who: Williamstown Theatre Festival

When: Tonight through July 21. Eves.: Tue.-Thu. 7:30; Fri., Sat. 8. Mats.: Thu. 2; Sat. 3:30; Sun. 4.

Tickets: $50

How: (413) 597-3400; wtfestival.org

To reach Josh Stilts:
jstilts@berkshireeagle.com,or (413) 496-6243
On Twitter: @JoshStilts


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