By Matthew Robare
These next two weekends the Theater Company of Saugus will be performing Neil Simon’s The Good Doctor. Directed by Jessica Stockton and produced by Lisa Scopa, it features Quincy-based Allison Tucker as The Writer, a character based on the Russian short story writer and dramatist Anton Chekov, who was also a doctor.
“This is my directorial debut. I’m very excited,” Stockton said. “The experience has been relatively easy, thanks to my cast. I have a wonderful cast; I had a wonderful concept going in. I feel something, I say something and they do it already—I don’t even have to tell them—it’s great.”
“It’s been fun,” Scopa said. “It’s always a good experience working—especially for Saugus. This was the first group I got involved with, so it’s kind of like a family. It’s always been fun.”
“I didn’t expect to have such a wonderful cast,” Stockton said. “The experience has exceeded my expectations. I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest. I knew I wanted to do the piece; I wanted to work with this company, because this is my home. I’ve learned a lot as to actors’ needs and thinking. It’s weird: You have to think like an actor when you’re directing.”
The play consists of ten vignettes: The Sneeze, The Governess, Surgery, The Seduction, The Drowned Man, The Audition, A Defenseless Creature, A Quiet War, and The Arrangement. Many of the cast members play several roles throughout the performance.
“It just hit me: I love the show and I wanted to direct it,” Stockton said. “It’s a great piece, it’s funny, it’s realism. I just love the piece. This is Neil Simon’s take on Anton Chekov. He’s in his office and he’s trying to figure out what to write, trying to find something great to write and his mind wanders. Out of the wandering come these great pieces, whether it be real [or] his imagination. Honestly, who sneezes on their boss and kinda gets away with it?”
“I get to figure out how my character feels about each of the characters,” Tucker said. “I imagine as a writer you would either really like or dislike the characters that you’re making, so I’m trying to have that relationship with each of the characters that my character is supposed to have created.”
“There are two or three of them that are based on Anton Chekov, [he] is in them and the other ones are just…what he’s putting in the paper,” Stockton said. “In our version of it he’s on stage the whole time—he’s writing it out, so we have a little bit of a different spin on it.”
“It’s definitely a challenge, but a fun one,” said Tucker. He explained, “It’s a nice exercise in really being present as an actor. The audience will see me very clearly if I’m not there, if I’m not with it—if I’m not engaged the whole time, so I have to really actually be listening to each story—I mean, I’m writing them as they happen, so there’s always the illusion of the first time in theater, but it can be really obvious if I’m not engaged.”
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on February 9, 10, 15, and 16 and at 2:00 p.m. on February 11 and 17. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. All performances are at the East Saugus United Methodist Church on Chestnut Street.