The play “Other Desert Cities” by Jon Robin Baitz had its full tech rehearsal at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis on Tuesday, Feb. 11. Set in Palm Springs, Calif., young Brooke Wyeth (Celeste Ciulla) comes home from the East Coast to visit her family. She is an aspiring writer and has printed the manuscript for her first book, “Love & Mercy: A Memoir.” Her conservative parents disapprove of it being published because of the dark family secrets embedded within it.
Brooke has struggled with depression for the past seven years of her life, and this visit is the first time she has seen her parents since they saw her in the hospital. She and her brother, Trip (Alex Hanna), have strayed from the path they believed their Ivy League degrees were supposed to take them. Trip produces a reality television court show and continuously offends his mother with his foul language. The siblings also have a brother of whom their parents refuse to speak.
Polly Wyeth (Dee Hoty) is the mother of the siblings and is married to Lyman (Anderson Matthews), an actor-turned-politician. Polly is domineering and stands strong in her decisions, telling her children she acts out of love. Polly tells Brooke if she publishes the book, she will not speak to her again. Lyman tells his daughter that he could not love her anymore if she goes through with it.
Polly’s sister, Silda (Glynis Bell), is a recovering alcoholic who lives with the family. She is the polar opposite of her sister and has been helping Brooke with her manuscript. Silda gives Brooke information about her long-lost brother, Henry.
The drama escalates as Brooke decides whether or not she will publish her book. She might even need to do some revising as more secrets come out.
“Other Desert Cities” runs from Feb. 12 – March 9.