Ixion Theatre, the 3-year-old theater company based in Lansing’s REO Town district, is looking to make waves this year with a season comprised entirely of new works. And its latest production, “Every Breath You Take,” is an international collaboration that was formed across the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
The dark drama, which opens Saturday, is penned by British playwright Graham Farrow. The transatlantic relationship between Farrow and Ixion Theatre founder Jeff Croff began over a decade ago when Croff was artistic director for Icarus Falling theater company.
“I remember coming across this company called Icarus Falling, and their output and raison d'être really appealed to me,” Farrow recalled. “I sent a message introducing myself and asking if they would be interested in taking a look at a script or two. Some 16 years later, Jeff is a good friend of mine and this is the third time we've worked together.”
When Croff contacted Farrow, the playwright had already worked through most of the story in his head.
“I'd been playing around with a germ of an idea, which had been gnawing at me for some time,” Farrow said. “(Croff) asked me what I had, and I said I had a piece where two families who are going through issues come together over an 'event' and the drama unfolds from that. I wanted to see what would happen when I put the knife in the woman's hand instead of the man's.”
With the story mostly worked out, Farrow was able to turn out the script in about a month.
“Once I have an idea, I think it out for quite some time, let it grow in my head,” Farrow said. “I live with the characters. I don't write anything until I get the whole piece. So, in that sense, the time is taken by the thinking and working it out in my head, as opposed to actually writing the piece.”
Farrow admits he is drawn to the darker areas of the human psyche. “Every Breath You Take” is, at its core, about tragedy, desperation and revenge.
“I find the dark side to be interesting — what makes a person do something irrational when they're a rational person to begin with, that sort of thinking,” he said. “It's what I like to see on screen and stage. I want to be moved, scared, made to think. I love comedy but it doesn't interest me like (drama).”
Farrow is inspired by dark, modern, sometime surrealist playwrights like Edward Albee, David Mamet and Tracy Letts.
“He tends toward visceral and driven shows that have very Hitchcock-like twists or reveals,” Croff said. “He tries to find something extremely vibrant in the pain or the frustration of the characters. It’s very compelling. When I look at his scripts, all of them take you to a darker place, a place that puts you on edge a bit.”
“Gritty doesn’t even describe it,” added director Michael Hays. “It’s not a comedy of manners. There are very few jokes in this script. I think it will disturb some people.”
But Farrow, taking his cues from storytellers like Hitchcock, isn’t interested in outright gore.
“It is violent, but the violence is implicit and used sparingly,” he said. “Its more psychological then anything. But I think there is a little blood spilled — only a little.”
“Every Breath You Take”
8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12; 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13; 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19; 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20
The Robin Theatre 1105 S. Washington Ave., Lansing
(517) 775-4246, ixiontheatre.com