SALEM — After 35 years in the theater, John Fogle knows what to look for when’s he casting a play.
“One of the first things I say to myself is, can I watch this actor for two hours?” Fogle said. “Some people you can, some you can’t.”
This is especially a concern in “Reckless” by Craig Lucas, currently onstage at the Salem Theatre Company, where the main character appears in every scene.
“As a director, you say, there’s a lot of words here,” Fogle said. “She has to be able to handle very rapid dialogue with grace and style.”
While reading the script, Fogle realized that Nancy Gahagan, whom he had directed in a show two years ago, would be perfect for the lead role.
“As you read this character, you can hear her,” said Fogle, who encouraged Gahagan to audition. “I knew she had the right kind of sensibility. She’s bubbly, a bright light onstage — very easy to watch.”
Finding the right actors was only the first challenge in producing this play, which has an unusual plot that requires creative staging.
In the opening scene, the main character, Rachel, is telling her husband how much she loves Christmas, when an abrupt revelation changes their relationship and drives her out into the night alone.
“The plot is almost indescribable. It’s so loony that it feels real,” Fogle said. “We have staged it as a dream. The word ‘dream’ appears on almost every page of the play.”
More than just a metaphor, the play’s dreamlike quality affects the way the action unfolds.
“Dreams skip from one place to another without any justification or effort, so we’ve tried to make it that way onstage, too,” Fogle said.
It takes a coordinated effort to put that recklessness onstage, without creating a distraction.