Next Act winds up for “The Clockmaker”

Director Mary MacDonald Kerr's play, about a clockmaker trying to save an unhappily married woman, is a "sort of" love story.

By - Jan 31st, 2013 04:00 am

The clockmaker Herr Mann (Drew Brhel) and Freida (Molly Rhode) develop a relationship that transcends time in Next Act’s “The Clockmaker.”

We all want to see the future. And perhaps believe in an afterlife. But what if the present, the right here and now, is the afterlife? And the past has been the present? And there have been countless lifetimes you’ve already lived?

The point being this: We’ve all wondered about the mysteries of time. Starting Friday at Next Act Theatre, those mysteries take center stage in Stephen Massicotte’s The Clockmaker.

Mary MacDonald Kerr, who last starred as Mary Bailey in Next Act’s It’s a Wonderful Life Live Radio Show, has the helm as director of The Clockmaker.

“It’s a little sad that I don’t get to be there on stage when it opens,” said Kerr. “But I really enjoy acting and directing equally.”

The Clockmaker follows clockmaker Herr Mann, played by Drew Brhel. It’s 1912 as the play begins. He appears to lead a disappointing life.

“I suppose in modern times he would be called a ‘geek,’” said Kerr. “He’s a very fastidious craftsman; not very dashing.”

He meets Frieda (Molly Rhode), who comes to him for a repair. It becomes apparent that she’s leading an unhappy life with an angry, abusive husband.

“He wants to save this woman’s life,” said Kerr. “I think one of the takeaway questions is what should we do with our gifts? What is our obligation to each other as cohabitants of the Earth?”

These questions simmer as time jumps about and mystery builds. The play bounces between present, past, and after-life, though nothing is meant to be immediately apparent to the audience. Think Cloud Atlas, or perhaps Inception or Memento. The idea is to chop up a linear story into thoughtfully arranged fragments.

“It’s a mixture of the Grimm fairy tales and Hitchcock,” said Kerr, “and it’s very Kafkaesque. It’s also incredibly theatrical. This is a very smart playwright—there are lots of threads. It’s funny, mysterious, sort of a love story…the characters don’t know where they are when they’re there, and the joy of the piece is trying to figure everything out.”

The Clockmaker opens Friday, Feb. 1, at Next Act Theatre. Tickets are $30 online or call 414-278-0765.

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