Oscar nominee Jake Gyllenhaal recently began preview performances for his new Off-Broadway play. Previews for Nick Payne’s If There Is I Haven’t found It Yet began Sunday, August 24 at the Off-Broadway Laura Pels Theatre as part of the Roundabout Theatre Company’s 2012-2013 season. With an opening night set for September 20, the show is expected to run a 13-week limited engagement through November 25. This production is the New York debut for director Michael Longhurst.
If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet made its original debut in the United Kingdom at the Bush Theatre in 2009, directed by Josie Rourke. The draw for audiences to this New York production is the return of film star Jake Gyllenhaal to the stage.
The dramedy, set in England, centers on an already dysfunctional family sent into a tailspin by the arrival of estranged Uncle Terry, played by Gyllenhaal. Roundabout considers the story an “entertaining look at a regular family stuck somewhere between knowing what the problem is…and doing something about it.” Overweight 15-year-old Anna, played by Annie Funke, is having trouble in school, and with no help from her parents, Fiona (Michelle Gomez) and George (Bryan O’Byrne), she turns to her uncle for help.
Funke made her Broadway debut in 2008 as a replacement Tracy Turnblad in Broadway’s Hairspray. Gomez has performed in London’s West End, and as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2008 production of The Taming of the Shrew. O ‘Byrne won a Tony Award for his performance as Ralph in Frozen, and has received four more Tony nominations, as well as an Emmy Award nomination.
Gyllenhaal had nothing but great things to say about the show and about his newly acquired stage family. “It takes what you sort of assume the play is going to be and it makes it so much bigger and grander,” Gyllenhaal told Mark Peikert in an interview with Backstage. Gyllenhaal is proud of what director Michael Longhurst has done with the work, describing it as “ambitious.” He is also happy to have been a part of this production, as his family is extremely important to him, another reason why he is glad to be back in New York. “This is the best possible place for me to be, to be near my family, doing a show about the mess of a family, and then maybe having my family come watch it.”
The show has been described by Roundabout as “provocative” and “insightful.” Roundabout’s artistic director Todd Haines described Payne as “an exciting young voice in the British Theatre.” Haines is most excited about introducing Payne’s work to American audiences, as he said in a previous statement. On July 9, Payne was named a recipient of the Harold Pinter Award, and won the 2009 George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright.
The show’s creative team includes Longhurst as director, Beowulf Boritt as set designer, Natasha Katz as lighting designer, costume designer Susan Hilferty, and original music and sound design by Obadiah Eaves.
To learn more about Gyllenhaal and his dysfunctional family in If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet, visit http://www.roundabouttheatre.org/.