By Donasia Sykes
Caitlin Simpson takes and owns the stage as Deborah Kerr, the 1950s movie star who is nervous and excited for her new movie, “From Here to Eternity.” As she waits for her (offstage) husband Tony to get ready for the premiere, she receives two gifts from Burt Lancaster, her co-star/love interest, a bouquet of flowers and a white fur stole that strangely matches her purple dress, accompanied by a note asking whether she is interested in taking their affair further.
In the 35-minute performance, Simpson reimagines August 5th, 1953, a day on which Deborah Kerr wonders what reviewers and audiences will think of her new movie. In ”From Here to Eternity,” she plays a cheating military wife. It is the first movie in which she plays a seductress, which leads her to question whether she can escape her famously sweet and proper image.
In between her musings about her career, she examines her role as a wife. Her marriage to Tony, a fighter ace turned film producer who hates the spotlight, has its highs and lows. Onstage, her appeals to Tony to hurry up and get dressed, that she found his jacket and that their car will soon arrive, go unanswered. The silence was increasingly painful, hinting that it was normal for her husband to ignore her.
Kerr remembers working on the film with Lancaster as she considers his note. She remembers their fantasies to run away together with their kids, and live someplace where she can plant flowers, even have a dog that would have to stay away from her garden, or else trample her daisies. Her joy in remembering their talks and flirtation vastly differs from her disappointment recounting her engagement to Tony via a telegram exchange: “South Pacific. Stop. Will you marry me? Stop. Yes. Stop. Very well. Stop.”
Kerr phones Lancaster at the end, thanking him for the flowers and stole, then rejecting his overtures. She explains that she ultimately cannot betray their spouses and kids. She reminds him that considering their star power, their affair would be a scandal in Hollywood. She hangs up the phone just as the car arrives, and calls out to her husband, still wearing Lancaster’s stole. She picks up Tony’s coat and walks off the stage.
“Deborah Kerr: After Eternity”
Written and Performed by Caitlin Simpson
Oct. 5 at 7:30pm, Oct. 30 at 7:30pm, Nov. 8 at 7:30pm
Director & Co-Playwright: Gabrielle Berberich
Dramaturg: Jessica Corn
Photo: courtesy of the production
United Solo 2018
410 West 42nd Street
New York City
DONASIA SYKES is a freelance writer currently based out of Brooklyn, NY. She graduated with a BA in English and Textual Studies with a concentration in Creative Writing from Syracuse University, where she saw and performed in various small stage shows.