Shepard’s assault-and-battery story about tormented lovers Eddie (Sam Rockwell) and his beaten-down girlfriend May (Nina Arianda) involves its fair share of throwing, pushing and human lassoing — all carefully choreographed by David S. Leong. But Rockwell thought he might have crossed the line at one point during the 75-minute performance.
Not with Arianda, but with co-star Tom Pelphrey.
“I thought I kicked Tom’s hand tonight,” Rockwell said at Times Square’s Urbo after party. “I sort of asked, ‘Are you okay?’ on stage when nobody could see my face. Luckily he was.”
The production originated last year at the Williamstown Theater Festival under the direction of Daniel Aukin, who also directed the Broadway staging. But despite their established rapport, Aukin explained that three weeks of rehearsal was necessary before the New York incarnation.
“This is such an emotionally challenging play that you need a big run in,” the director said. “You can’t just drop into something like this. So we took our time to put it back together.”
Aukin and his cast got a little help from Shepard, who was in attendance on Thursday night but steered clear of press.
“He made a few tiny rewrites,” Rockwell said. “It’s nerve-wracking knowing he’s watching, but he’s been really supportive. We all figured it out together.”