The first season under Jenny Gersten has seen a succession of handsome shows with stunning, even lavish scenic design. So it is tempting to say that the best thing about Touch(ed) (like the earlier Three Hotels) is its sets and lighting.
That would be true, but snarky.
Touch(ed) has more going for it than a gigantic set that rolls away to make room for the final scene. This new play by the promising young writer Bess Wohl opened this week at the smaller Nikos Theatre during the Williamstown Theatre Festival. It is the theatre that has traditionally been the place where the Festival’s new works are debuted. All that changed this year with the arrival of the organization’s new artistic director, Jenny Gersten. She has turned the tables on tradition.
The traditional A Streetcar Named Desire opened on the “experimental” stage while the intimate Three Hotels took the main stage with its gigantic McSets. The Nikos sold out with the radically updated Tennessee Williams classic, while the more contemporary Three Hotels by John Robin Baitz left thousands of seats unsold. For many who treasure the WTF, this seemed to be wrong-headed. But Gersten has a rationale for these moves, and I suspect that the unsaid part of this arrangement is not only key to her quest for new and upcoming writers, directors and actors, but also for those hard to find “new” audiences. We will get to that towards the end of this review and analysis.