'Retreat from Moscow' explores the end of a marriage

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 25, 2012

By Katie Scarvey
St. Thomas Players continues its summer exploration of marriage with the William Nicholson play “The Retreat from Moscow,” opening Thursday, Aug. 2 at the Florence Busby Corriher Theatre on the campus of Catawba College.
The play, directed by Justin Dionne, looks at the painful demise of the marriage of Alice and Edward, not to mention the collateral damage to their adult son, Jamie, played by Jacob Asher.
“The writing is beautiful,” Dionne says. “This is a very heartfelt play, very real.”
And, Dionne adds, the small cast is wonderful, with veterans Claudia Galup and Kurt Corriher as the couple and Jacob Asher playing their son.
The casting of Galup and Corriher is noteworthy.
“Kurt and I have been great friends over the years and comrades in St. Thomas Players,” says Galup, who is artistic director of St. Thomas Players.
And they also played husband and wife 20 years ago, in Piedmont Players Theatre’s popular “Rumors.”
Galup has directed Corriher twice — and Corriher has directed Galup twice, including “No Exit,” the very first play ever produced by St. Thomas Players.
In “The Retreat from Moscow,” Corriher plays Edward, who leaves his wife Alice after 33 years of marriage. The title is a reference to Napoleon’s invasion of — and subsequent retreat from — Moscow. Corriher explains that the references to that conflict — which involved soldiers doing morally questionable things to their own comrades in order to save themselves — cause the audience to consider other ethical issues in human relationships. For his character, Corriher says, the divorce, however hurtful it may be to his wife, is “a matter of survival.”
Corriher is still remembered for his portrayal of C.S. Lewis in another William Nicholson play, Piedmont Players’ “Shadowlands.”
While “Dinner with Friends,” produced earlier this summer, looked at how the dissolution of a marriage affected a couple’s best friends, “Retreat from Moscow” deals with how a divorce directly affects the family unit, Dionne says.
The play was seen on Broadway at the Booth Theatre, featuring John Lithgow, Eileen Atkins and Ben Chaplin. In 2004, it received several Tony nominations, including Best Play.
Andy Maben designed the set, which, Dionne says, is the first ‘tennis court’ configuration he’s ever done (there is seating on two sides of the theatre, with a rectangular stage area).
That “allows for a physicalization of the son getting pulled in two directions,” Dionne says.
Adam York is lighting designer; Erin Dougherty is costume designer; Lynne Harrell is stage manager, with Sue McHugh assisting. Jeffrey Salerno is sound designer.
There will be an opening-night reception following the show at Salisbury Wine Shop on Main Street.
The Sunday, Aug. 5 matinee is buy-one-get-one free — two tickets for $15. Group rates (eight people or more) are available at $10 per ticket.
On Friday, Aug. 10 there will be a talk-back with the actors and director immediately following the performance.
Performance dates and times are 7:30 p.m., Aug. 2-4; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5; 7:30 p.m. , Aug. 9-11.
Call 704-647-0999 or email faithart@bellsouth.net for more information.