Metro Weekly

Editor’s Pick: ‘Maple and Vine’ at Spooky Action Theater

Spooky Action's latest show, from playwright Jordan Harrison, is running through Oct. 23.

Maple and Vine: Spooky Action Theater -- Photo: DJ Corey Photography
Maple and Vine: Spooky Action Theater — Photo: DJ Corey

In 2020, Jordan Harrison’s The Amateurs was nominated for the Lambda Literary Award for Drama — ultimately losing to the musical that also scooped up the 2020 Pulitzer Prize, Michael R. Jackson’s A Strange Loop.

A play about putting on a show in the midst of a deadly pandemic, The Amateurs was nearly halfway through a month-long run at Olney Theatre when the spread of Covid shut down everything in mid-March. “At the time, the resonance between art and reality was almost too large to fully grasp,” Olney put it exactly one year later.

Harrison, who spent three seasons working as a writer and producer for Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black, is best known for his play Marjorie Prime, a 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama finalist that nominators described as “a sly and surprising work about technology and artificial intelligence told through images and ideas that resonate.” Two years later, the family drama was adapted for the big screen starring Geena Davis, Jon Hamm, Tim Robbins, and Lois Smith.

Now, D.C.’s Spooky Action Theater is staging a very different play by Harrison, one that may conjure memories of Pleasantville. In Maple and Vine, we meet a couple in New York City who have become disenchanted with their 21st-century lives and the trappings that keep them a step or more away from achieving the ever-elusive concept of happiness — until they meet Dean from an idealistic community existing in a permanent state of 1955.

“The notion that less freedom could make you happy is a morally problematic idea,” Harrison says. “I’m hoping that the audience thinks, ‘I would never do something like that. Or would I?'” Stevie Zimmerman directs the production featuring Nick DePinto, Stephen Russell Murray, Amanda Tudor, Em Whitworth, and Jacob Yeh.

Playing through Oct. 23 at The Universalist National Memorial Church, 1810 16th St. NW.

Tickets are $20 to $40. Visit or call 202-248-0301.

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