A tale of two Lehanes
This is going to be an interesting week for Dennis Lehane, as his very first play, CORONADO, opens tomorrow night at New York’s Invisible City Theater (and your faithful correspondent will be there and expects to report back Thursday with various thoughts and sundry.) But the play — based on his fabulous short story “Until Gwen” that was anthologized in both BAMS and BASS — is extra special because it has a starring role for his older brother Gerry. They both talk to the Boston Globe about the shared experience:
At 42, Gerry Lehane is two and a half years older than Dennis. He’s a
veteran actor who trained at the Trinity Repertory Company in
Providence before heading to New York in 1990. He is a member of the
Invisible City Theatre Company. Dennis said he had Gerry in mind when
he wrote the part of the father. ”He was always playing the Jimmy
Stewart parts, and I was like, someone has to give him a Christopher
Walken part,” said Dennis.
In ”Coronado,” Gerry plays the
role of a violent, sociopathic father — the opposite from their own
dad, Michael. ”He’s the sweetest guy in the world. He worked his whole
life in Sears and Roebuck,” said Dennis.
Gerry and Dennis are the
youngest of five siblings; the next one, another brother, is six years
older than Gerry. They grew up near Edward Everett Square in Dorchester
and attended Boston College High School. Ironically it was Gerry who
had the quiet introspection of a writer, while Dennis had the more
gregarious personality of an actor.
”But he always wanted to
act, and I always wanted to write, and I’ve long suspected that at some
point we agreed on this unspoken contract where I’d never try his thing
and he’d never try mine,” said Dennis. The brothers grew up close. ”We
always had each other’s back,” said Dennis, who credits the theme of
loyalty, which runs through much of his work, to their relationship.
So how do these brothers view each other professionally?
It is impossible to view a loved one objectively — especially one
you shared a bedroom with growing up. Both brothers said it was only
recently that they could judge each other’s work with a professional
eye. In separate interviews, each used the same word — ”shocked” —
to describe their reactions to that work.
”Seeing my brother
acting tonight, I was shocked,” said Dennis. ”He was great. He went
places [with a costar] I didn’t know they were going. They played it
far more emotionally than I wrote it.”
Gerry said he has the same reaction to Dennis’s writing. ”Sometimes,
I’m still shocked at how good he is. I’ve had to take it on faith from
other people who tell me he’s terrific. He’s my brother; there’s no
suspension of disbelief that’s necessary to make a judgment.”
In fact, Dennis said he has been unable to see Gerry’s work clearly
until that night’s rehearsal. ”Seeing him, I thought, ‘Oh, that guy’s
good.’ Then, ‘Oh, it’s Gerry!’
It’ll be interesting to see how the sibling dynamic plays out in play format, but I must say I am really looking forward to this.