Wilton Playshop presents The Commons of Pensacola

The story of a woman named Judith, who has been divested of her assets and forced to leave her luxurious New York life after her husband’s Wall Street scam, hits the Wilton Playshop stage on Feb. 26 in The Commons of Pensacola.

“It’s about what happens when someone that we’re related to is arrested for a crime and what it means to be the wife, sister, child, or granddaughter of a criminal,” said Carin Zakes, director of the Playshop’s production of Amanda Peet’s play, which runs through March 12.

Zakes said the play it a takeoff on what could have happened to the wife of Bernie Madoff, who “pulled off the greatest Ponzi scheme in America.”

“It’s about the aftermath of the unraveling of the Ponzi scheme — what happens to the family and what happens to the relationship between her and her daughter,” she said.

Stamford resident Nancy Thode plays Judith, the wife and mother of the family, who moves into a one-bedroom condo in Pensacola, Fla., after her husband’s scandal makes headline news.

When Judith’s daughter Becca, played by Norwalk resident Jessie Gilbert, and her filmmaker boyfriend Gabe, played by Norwalk resident Alex J. Helm, pay her a visit and ask her to agree to a docu-series about her situation, everyone’s motives are called into question.

Judith’s other daughter Ali, played by Stamford resident Erica Evelti, also shows up at the condo with her foul-mouthed teenage daughter Lizzy, played by Westport resident Deanne Hartog.

The family members examine the fallout from the jailed father and husband and the question of what Judith knew looms in the air.

The Commons of Pensacola is “a morality play” that poses a number of ethical questions, said Zakes, such as, Would you keep the money? How much did she know and when did she know it?

“It’s about the aftermath of a scandal and how it affects all the people in that circle and not just the person who committed the crime,” she said.

Auditions for the Wilton Playshop production were held in December and rehearsals began in January.

“We have a great cast. It’s a nice ensemble cast of six people — the mom and her two daughters, her granddaughter, a boyfriend, and a home health aide,” said Zakes.

“It’s a very small cast, and it’s a quick play [with] a series of quick scenes.”

Zake said Peet captures dialogue very well in her play, which includes “interesting” and “complicated” characters “with complicated relationships.”

“As actors, they have to kind of make their own decisions as to how much they know and feel,” said Zakes, adding that the roles require members of the cast to each conduct a “big exploration” of their characters.

“There’s a lot of character work. These are characters who are struggling to love one another through all that’s going on,” said Zakes, who hopes for a good audience turnout at the performances.

“After two months of work, we want to make sure it all pays off and that people come see their talents.”

Zakes said she and the cast have had “some major ethical conversations” during rehearsals and hope people “walk out pondering the ethics of the cash culture, and how much is enough, and should anyone have said something sooner or just breeze on by living this luxurious lifestyle without questioning how the money came so easily.”

About the director

Zakes, a resident of Port Chester, N.Y., said she is passionate about the performing arts and has “directed a lot of plays.”

“I directed Enchanted April at the Wilton Playshop a couple of years ago,” she said, “and I just finished directing Blithe Spirit at Curtain Call [in Stamford].”

Career-wise, Zakes is a global integrated production director for Combe Incorporated in White Plains, N.Y.

Showtimes for The Commons of Pensacola are:

  • Feb. 26 and 27 and March 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, and 12 at 8 p.m.

  • Feb. 28 and March 6 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for seniors and students, with $5 discounts on March 3 and 10, and may be purchased here .

Due to language, parental guidance is recommended.

Information: www.wiltonplayshop.org.