When Mike Markey and Laura Marr appeared onstage together last summer in “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” they discovered an interesting coincidence.
Two of the Circle Theater's co-founders, they both attended the 1986 revival of John Guare's “The House of Blue Leaves” in New York City — unbeknownst to each other. The show, starring John Mahoney and Swoosie Kurtz, was memorable indeed, snagging eight Tony nominations and winning four.
Now Markey and Marr will play husband and wife in “The House of Blue Leaves,” which the Circle opens Friday night.
“It had a profound effect on me,” Markey said last week. “There's beautiful language in it, and some real searing images of just the meanness we can have toward each other when we don't fulfill our dreams.”
He said the play resonates today, since each character wants to touch fame, either their own or someone else's. And, he said, it's just a very funny dark comedy.
Marr said the play might seem a quirky comedy on the surface, but underneath it's an absurdist piece with layers of meaning, plus a healthy dose of farce. Guare takes his time unfolding the backstory of the characters in this crazy household.
The play is set in 1965 Queens, N.Y., on the day Pope Paul VI is visiting New York. Markey plays Artie, a failed songwriter who works at the zoo but wants his old friend, now a famous moviemaker, to hire him to score his next film. Artie's married to Bananas, a schizophrenic, but he's having an affair with Bunny, who lives in the downstairs apartment. Their son (played by Marr's real-life son, Dylan), also unstable, has a dark plot afoot.
“Everybody has so much riding on this one moment in the play,” Marr said. “Things look like they'll go one way, and then they don't.”