Robin Amos Kahn is the mind behind “Scrambled Eggs,” a new, women-focused comedy now running off-Broadway. We sat down with the playwright, a former screenwriter for daytime soap operas, to chat about how much of this narrative — starring Amy Van Nostrand, and co-written by Gary Richards — comes from her own life experiences. Plus, how did she face the challenges of transitioning from writing major drama for the small screen to getting big laughs from a live audience?
What is “Scrambled Eggs” about?
For me, it’s really an everywoman’s story about this one character that’s very universal, about this certain crossroads that causes her to look back over her life. … She is physically going through certain symptoms that she doesn’t understand, and she’s at a place in her life where she’s wondering if she’s losing her mind.
How much of it is drawn from your own experiences?
Some of it is based on my own life. I’ve always had a lot of close girlfriends; so I’m always saying to them: “Are you going to do this? What happened to you? When you were dating, did you do this?” So all of those stories inform this play, because we are our relationships and friendships. ... A lot of this is based on shared memories and shared experiences.
Is it just targeted to middle-aged women?
No. This character goes back over her entire life, [from] family life with her parents to her dating life. My daughter, who is 25, really relates to the younger period of dating. And men seem to love this play because it gives them insight into women in a way that they don’t usually have, and they also get to laugh at themselves and laugh at some of the foibles of women — at some of our craziness. … It definitely seems to touch people at different stages of their lives.
Did working with Gary Richards help add the men’s point of view?
The original story was that I was writing a solo show, and I was going to perform it. And I worked on it with a dramaturge. Then I completely chickened out and said, “Just give it to a good actress – I don’t want to get onstage and do it!” So we had an actress do a reading, and Gary, who’s a writer and a director said, “I think this would make a great play. Let’s bring all the characters to life.” So the two of us did that, and it evolved.
How was it moving from writing dramas for TV to a comedic play?
Comedy is much less challenging for me. Soaps are much more challenging. My analogy for writing soaps was that I was a ballerina with 30 pound weights attached to my feet. Everything I wrote, I wanted to be funny. There was one show I could be funny on, and that was “Guiding Light.” But every other show was very serious, and every time I wrote something funny they’d cross it out. … I admire great drama. I worship Tony Kushner, I wish I could write “Angels in America.” But I’m going to be me — it’s going to come from a much more humorous place, because that’s just who I am.
What’s your favorite moment in the play?
There’s a scene with the parents when the character was a child — and for me its about growing up in a family that’s really dysfunctional, and how do we do it as a child, and how do we feel good about ourselves when we’re in dysfunction. I actually wrote about it in a writing group once [and] tissues were passed around the room, and then I wrote it as a funnier piece now. [It’s] extremely poignant. So for me, that’s the moment. But there are a lot of them.
Where did the title come from?
The title actually came from [actor/writer] Eric Bogosian, who is one of my comic heroes. [He] read an early version, and he said, “I have the perfect title for you: ‘Scrambled Eggs.’” It just stuck. And when you see it, you’ll know why it’s a good title.