Yankee Tavern by Steven Dietz, a taught comic thriller from one of America's leading contemporary playwrights, will have audiences on the edge of their barstools when it premieres at the New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch.
Adam, a young grad student on the fast track toward marriage and a career in the CIA, has temporarily taken his late father's place behind the bar at the Yankee Tavern, an old gin joint in lower Manhattan whose imminent date with the wrecking ball will only be an improvement. Along with the bar, Adam has inherited his dad's friend Ray, an apparently schizophrenic, "itinerant homesteader" who is a perpetual font of conspiracy theories--about Starbucks, the moon landing, Yoko Ono and the Bay of Pigs. Ray even talks to dead people in the abandoned hotel upstairs where he flops. Adam takes it all in with protective affection and a large grain of salt, his only concern being for Ray's fate following the building's demolition, and a nagging doubt about the circumstances of his father's death. Then Palmer arrives, a mysterious stranger who seems to know far too much about the 9/11 attacks. Suddenly, Ray's ranting does not seem nearly so far off base; in fact, it is hitting much too close to home. But the intrigue doesn't end there. When all the save-the-date cards from Adam's side of the guest list come back as Addressee Unknown, his fiancée Janet starts to wonder how well she really knows her intended. Will monumental secrets be brought to light before the walls come down on the Yankee Tavern or will they be buried in the rubble? And will anyone leave the theater with the same trust in what they are told, or even in what they can see with their own eyes?