In the program to his new play Sorry writer-director Richard Nelson writes, “It is my hope that these plays are about the need to talk, the need to listen, the need for theatre, and, I now add, the need to be in the same room together.”
The immediacy of theater sets it apart from the other storytelling- and performance-based arts like film and television. Every show is different, if only in minute ways. Every performance is ephemeral, specific to that moment in time and that audience. Once it’s over, it’s gone.
I have arrived late to the “Apple Family Plays.” Sorry (which The Public Theater has extended through this Sunday, Dec. 2) is the third of a fascinating four-play experiment-in-progress. Even without seeing the first two installments -- That Hopey Changey Thing and Sweet and Sad -- (as I haven’t), I enthusiastically endorse catching this show before it actually closes. Each play presents a peak through a window into the lives of one family on a day of national significance. That important date matches the play’s official opening performance. In the case of Sorry, the audience spends just shy of two hours with the Apple siblings and their uncle Benjamin in the early morning of Election Day 2012, and therefore, the play opened on Nov. 6 as well.
I don’t know how true this was for the first two plays, but Nelson obviously continued changing the script of Sorry all the way up to opening night. At least a few audiences saw this PublicLab production in previews (although I believe it’s schedule was altered due to Hurricane Sandy), but the play just as obviously becomes frozen in time as of that opening night.