How can a date night with a lover go so terribly wrong?
That’s the reigning question in Gina Gionfriddo’s upcoming dark comedy “Can You Forgive Her?” which is very loosely based on a true crime story. Like most romances, there’s more to the picture than the eye can see.
Miranda (Meredith Forlenza) is the devious, broke protagonist who dates a rich, emotionally unavailable doctor David (Allyn Burrows) and another man, Sateesh (Theogan Iyer), to her heart’s content. The arrangement goes well — at least until Sateesh threatens to kill her on Halloween night at a bar.
“She’s the victim of her own mistakes,” explains Gionfriddo about Miranda. “She behaves badly in the story. The play is partly about understanding how you get to be a person behaving that badly.”
Characters in crisis are Gionfriddo’s specialty
The playwright’s most recent work, the Pulitzer Prize nominated “Rapture, Blister, Burn,” is about two middle-aged women who covet the others’ life. An earlier play, “U.S. Drag”, tells the tale of two young New York women who look for life’s meaning — and rent money — in unusual places. Gionfriddo has even written for “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” in the past.
“Like any writer, I’m interested in people’s flaws and failings. To commit a crime is just… it’s kind of the worst case scenario. I think we’re all wrestling with our flaws and frustrations. [I have] a certain fascination with people who transgress and the people who are the victims of those transgressions.”
On casting an unlikable character
“If you have written a character who risks being unlikable, it certainly helps if you’re casting someone who has qualities that are going to draw an audience in — whether it’s charm, whether it’s magnetism,” says Gionfriddo on deciding who should play Miranda.
A personal touch
After Miranda’s incident with Sateesh, a stranger at the bar called Graham (Chris Henry Coffey) offers the 20-some woman refuge. The sorrowful character is in the midst of deciding what to do with a collection of his deceased mother’s writings.
Gionfriddo explained to Metro that she had to face a somewhat similar decision when contemplating how much of her writing from early in her career she felt comfortable throwing away. “I was really thinking a lot about stuff and what we hold onto and what we let go.”
If you go:
Huntington Theatre presents “Can You Forgive Her?”
March 25 to April 24
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
527 Tremont St., Boston
Starting at $20