This production is scheduled June 16-18, 2023.


So . . . the set-up for Visiting Mr. Green, a play in nine scenes produced as a staged reading for one weekend only June 16-18 at By the Sea Productions in Morro Bay, is pretty simple: an elderly man and a young corporate executive develop an unexpected friendship that plays out in unexpected ways.

Written by Jeff Baron, the show premiered in 1996 with Eli Wallach in the lead role. Russell Snow skillfully channels Mr. Wallach as an irascible 86-year-old who is so set in his ways that nothing, it seems, will move him.

When the empathetic Ross, played by Phil Epstein, begins to make weekly visits to Mr. Green, what begins as a series of strained but funny encounters turns into something of a truth-telling exchange that eventually changes both of the characters’ lives.

Snow and Epstein are likable, sympathetic, and eager to interpret the text for the audience (the actors are on script throughout the production). With the support of directors Samvel Gottlieb and Kelli M. Poward in this bare-bones production, their sincere readings reach out and touch the audience in the course of the play’s ultimately poignant 90 minutes (with intermission).

The play has a built-in symmetry that is pleasing and satisfying: for example, the drama begins with a knock on a door and ends with a knock on the same door, and what we witness in between is a bit chaotic at times, but both touching and meaningful. At $15, tickets for Visiting Mr. Green are a bargain for the life lessons shared.

Evening performances of Visiting Mr. Green on Friday and Saturday are at 7 p.m., and the Sunday matinee is at 3 p.m.

:: Charlotte Alexander