OutCast brings “The Velocity of Autumn” to Langley

— Created September 7, 2022 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

OutCast Productions in Langley is celebrating its 10th anniversary season with a Tony and Pulitzer Prize-nominated story.

“The Velocity of Autumn,” by Eric Coble, opens Friday and will run through Sept. 24 at the Black Box Theater at the fairgrounds in Langley. The play is directed by Ned Farley with assistance from Jim Scullin. The two-character play features Gail Fleming and Ned Farley.

“I would call it a drama, except there are a lot of light, humorous moments,” Farley described. “It feels very real to me. It’s such a human story.”

The story centers on 80-year-old Alexandra (Gail Fleming) and her estranged son, Chris (Ned Farley). Alexandra has locked herself in her apartment in Brooklyn, because she believes her adult children want to put her in a nursing home.

“She’s barricaded herself, she has Molotov cocktails all around,” Farley said. “She’s convinced her children are going to call the police and have her dragged out and taken to a nursing home. Her younger son, who has been gone for 20 years, crawls through the window because that was the only way he thought he could gain access. Everything unfolds from there. We find out about both characters and what the connection is between them. It’s a beautifully told story with wonderfully humorous moments, wonderful revelations and moments of tension as the conversation unfolds.”

Farley said the show is also unusual in that it runs about an hour, with no intermission. It is performed as one scene, as if it is happening in real time. He said the script captured him from the beginning.

“I went wild,” he said. “It’s a great script, great story. A lot of plays are great until the end, they don’t have a good ending. I thought all the way through what an amazing story this was…and it has a good ending. People can walk away feeling good, not walk away feeling torn apart. With some plays, that’s important. But this is an interesting series of arcs that feel satisfying. I think people will walk away feeling like they’ve had a good meal.”

While it was always Farley’s intention to serve as the director for this play, he unexpectedly found himself taking on the role of Alexandra’s son. Directing himself was not something he ever planned to do.

“I knew right off the bat Gail [Fleming] would be perfect. Then I went through a series of actors I thought would work, but they either weren’t available or were out of the country,” he said. “So I thought, here’s a team I’ve worked with before. I know their work, I trust them as actors and as human beings. If I’m going to do something like this, this would be the play to do it.

“I did things as I would normally do them – I blocked the whole show, but I couldn’t stand back and watch,” Farley continued. “Jim [Scullin] has stepped into that role and has done an amazing job helping to be my eyes, making sure the blocking is working and giving feedback as an actor. It’s been a pleasure. It’s working for this and I don’t feel the production has been compromised.”

Farley, one of the founders of OutCast Productions, said he enjoys being on both sides of the stage, although not necessarily at the same time.

“My training is predominantly as an actor,” he said. “By the time I was in high school, I knew this is what I wanted to do. I didn’t really think about directing until I was farther down the road. I enjoy it. I feel actors who become directors bring a different eye to the work.

“I would have to say I’m tilted more on the director side these days, but I still enjoy diving into a character when it’s something that really strikes me,” continued Farley. “This one, I’ve got to admit it, this is a great role. It’s been a real pleasure. It’s one of the tastiest little morsels for an actor I’ve seen in a long time.”

As the name itself implies, OutCast Productions is a theater company that does things a little differently. OutCast has technically been around for 12 years, but due to the pandemic, Farley said they are celebrating its 10th season, delayed. The goal from the beginning has been to create theater with intent, theater that makes people think.

“Our intention has been to choose vehicles that have a message of some sort, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be funny,” Farley explained. “I feel like we’ve done that relatively well, but we’re still learning. I’m excited about that.”

That’s one of the things that appealed to Farley about “The Velocity of Autumn.” It’s relatable and it will make people think. And he said this play is one of just a handful of plays he’s read over the past 12 years with which he immediately fell in love.

“This play ticks the boxes on so many levels,” he said. “It speaks to an issue that’s very real for many people – dealing with aging parents or who are themselves aging. This is a real thing. I don’t think there’s anybody who can’t understand that. I think it’s something really powerful that strikes a chord for so many people. The optimist in me says people will really appreciate it because the storytelling is really well done.”

Performances of “The Velocity of Autumn” open Friday and will continue through Sept. 24. Show times are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with two additional performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22 and at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18. Tickets may be purchased online at outcastproductions.net or seats may be reserved and paid for at the door by emailing ocp@whidbey.com.