Past Performing Arts

Richard Maxwell/New York City Players: Isolde

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“Richard Maxwell looks at the world with X-ray eyes…[in] Isolde, his smashing new work.”—New York Times

One of the foremost American theater artists of his generation—and a longtime favorite of Wex theater followers—playwright and director Richard Maxwell returns with his New York City Players in their acclaimed recent production, Isolde. An innovative take on the drawing room drama, Isolde is a breakthrough work that demonstrates fresh dimensions in Maxwell’s approach as he expands the emotional range and expressiveness of his actors to flesh out his trademark, stripped-to-the-bone essentialism.

Isolde pivots around a highly fraught romantic triangle. But as in previous works, Maxwell injects his own unique and unforgettable twists, taking us into the realm of understated insight and the decidedly unconventional. With his skewed humor and dialogue of disconnection, Maxwell reveals the humanity at the heart of his principal characters: Isolde, a magnetic but neurotic siren prone to flights of forgetfulness; Patrick, her steadfast husband, a building contractor; and Massimo, the verbally dashing but do-little star architect who is hired to realize Isolde’s dream vacation home, but who also has designs on her seduction. An all-star cast of Downtown theater talent plays out the characters’ passions with the grand proportions of a Wagnerian opera (like a modern day Tristan and Isolde). Poised against an elegantly rendered skeletal set, their aching pauses signal the absences and unfinished dimensions that haunt contemporary life. As Wex audiences know well, it’s an arena Maxwell expertly mines with nuance and dry wit.

Isolde is a production of Theater Basel, developed during a residency with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, New York, in June 2013 and the support of the Alliance of Resident Theaters, New York. New York City Players is supported by New York State Council on the Arts, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation New York Theater Program.

play performance

Isolde   Photo: Michael Schmelling

woman on stage

Isolde   Photo: Michael Schmelling


Doris Duke Charitable Foundation



The Blackwell



Greater Columbus Arts Council

The Columbus Foundation

Nationwide Foundation

Ohio Arts Council


Past Performing Arts

Richard Maxwell/New York City Players: Isolde