“The first time we did a read-through with all of us, I was looking forward to it, but I was actually overcome with emotion,” said Josh Hamilton, the 38-year-old theater vet and indie movie star, who was discussing his role as Teddy in The New Group’s production Things We Want, directed by Ethan Hawke and currently being staged at the Acorn on Theatre Row.
While lounging on a frumpy couch backstage, Mr. Hamilton cradled a cup of tea and explained that he first met playwright Jonathan Marc Sherman nearly two decades ago, when they were just teenagers, on the same block as the Acorn. Mr. Hamilton played Mr. Sherman’s alter ego in the successful play Women and Wallace, and the pair (who look oddly alike with their winning grins and rich, brown eyes) would later form the Malaparte Theater Company with Ethan Hawke. After a nearly decade-long hiatus due to marriages, movie roles and, in Mr. Sherman’s case, alcoholism, the trio are working together for the first time in nearly a decade. “Reconvening all of us as adults now has been oddly emotional for me in a really nice way,” Mr. Hamilton said.
Things We Want follows the story of three brothers (played by Peter Dinklage of The Station Agent, Paul Dano of Little Miss Sunshine and Mr. Hamilton) who wrestle with addictions (alcohol), pain (a broken heart, their parents’ suicide) and attraction (to their neighbor, played by Zoe Kazan) in their childhood apartment.
“I really missed doing Jonathan’s writing,” Mr. Hamilton said. “His writing is tricky because it can work on a certain level: it’s very clever and facile and can be really funny. But, what’s hard to get right and what’s there if you can capture it, is a vast reservoir of pain. You realize that his characters use humor and specificity of language to ultimately mask and navigate their way through it.”
Things We Want, produced by The New Group, opens today at the Acorn Theater and runs through Dec. 15. Performances are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Tuesday at 7 p.m., and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets: www.ticketcentral.com and 212-279-4200.