By John Fleming
Times Performing Arts Critic
Larry Silverberg has been given an auspicious opportunity. He is the first guest director at FreeFall Theatre, whose previous productions have all been staged by artistic director Eric Davis. Silverberg takes on Becky Shaw, a dark comedy by Gina Gionfriddo that opens this weekend.
"The standard description of the play is that it's about two people set up on a blind date that goes terribly wrong, but it's so much more, a very complex picture of some pretty dysfunctional relationships," Silverberg says. "It's a really spectacular script."
Gionfriddo's play was a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize, and the off-Broadway production got a terrific notice in the New York Times, which likened it to "an amalgamation of the wittier bits of Sex and the City and a psychological thriller."
Silverberg brings some strong credentials to his directing task. The St. Petersburg resident is a leading teacher of the Sanford Meisner Technique of Acting and author of a four-volume series, The Sanford Meisner Approach: An Actors Workbook. This month, a series of Meisner classes for teen and adult actors will be offered at FreeFall by Silverberg's True Acting Institute (trueactinginstitute.com).
Interestingly, several of the actors in Becky Shaw have taken Meisner training workshops with Silverberg. The cast includes Marcia Cox, Christina DeRosier, Keith Edie, Jim Sorensen and Natalie Symons.
The play opens Friday and runs through Feb. 19 at FreeFall. A talkback with director Silverberg and cast members is scheduled after this Saturday's performance.