Certain small, old towns of the Northeast are full of time warps. People crossing the street can seem like they sprang from decades past and certain buildings are forgotten relics, unseen and unnoticed. As a boy, playwright/director Jim Farmer saw The Sound of Music in a large, decrepit movie theater in Hawley, PA, near Lake Wallenpaupack. The movie palace's sad and spooky overtones brought back feelings he had as a younger child, when he was taken by his parents to a supper club in Bayonne NJ, his hometown. Surrounded by its scratchy jazz band and eerie, wrinkled comics, Farmer knew that he wasn't experiencing a "Jack Benny Show" of the past but a David Lynch moment of the future.
His new play, The Supper Club of Lost Causes, is about that feeling of being caught in noirish, purgatorial places where the passage of time is suspended. Mr. Farmer has worked with The Ridge Theater, which is famous for experimental operas of this genre, like "Jack Benny" and "Everyday Newt Burman" (composed by John Moran and directed by Bob McGrath). Farmer composed scores for the Ridge's productions of "Alice in Bed" (ART Theater, Cambridge, MA), "Jungle Book" (One Dream Theater) and "Pieces of the Ridge" (The Kitchen). Since 1992 he has honed his playwriting sensibilities to a series of dramatic works, which have found a cult audience at Naked Angels, where he has been a steady contributor in the "Tuesdays" developmental series.
The Supper Club of Lost Causes is one of these. Part vaudeville and part nightmare, it's set in a faded glory supper club in Hawley, PA. Such establishments were commonly found along rural highways outside of towns, providing supper and cheap, all-night entertainment, including music and dancing. Some of them had gambling and rooms for travelers, adding to their disreputable allure. They were well past their time by the Jack Benny era, but hung on (at least, in this play) in places like Hawley, PA.