BRATTLEBORO -- When Brandon Batham saw the play "Nuts" in a theater in Los Angeles, he felt the production missed the point.
Intrigued by the play and determined to do it right, Batham is directing the Vermont Theatre Company production of the play, which opens Friday and runs through Feb. 2 at the Hooker-Dunham Theater, 139 Main St.
"’Nuts’ is a very different courtroom drama. It’s not exactly your typical case," said Batham.
Tom Topor’s play, set in 1979, is the story of a call girl indicted for manslaughter who is determined to prove she is sane enough to stand trial in spite of her parents’ efforts, for fear of public scandal, to stop her proving to the judge she isn’t nuts.
"It is the search for whose truth is the real truth. I’m a large believer in perceptions, because perceptions shape the truth," said Batham, who moved to Brattleboro in 2012 to attend Marlboro College, where his focus is on American Studies and politics.
Through a succession of revealing moments, the audience learns more and more of the truth about the call girl’s psyche and childhood, raising serious questions about sexual abuse and family and social dynamics that may have led her to a life of prostitution.
"She’s honest. She’s courageous. She recognizes that everybody’s trying to manage her, and because she doesn’t want to be managed, everyone thinks she’s crazy," said Bridget McBride, who plays accused call-girl Claudis Draper.
These powerful moments lead up to a verdict on whether she’s fit to stand trial. What that verdict is, the folks at VTC aren’t saying.
"That is the only question I refuse to answer: Is she crazy?" said Batham.
"Nuts" premiered off-off Broadway in 1979 and on Broadway the following year. A 1987 film version starred Barbra Streisand and Richard Dreyfuss. It has been hailed as the best courtroom drama since "Witness for the Prosecution" and "The Caine Mutiny Court Martial."
Co-produced by Bob Kramsky and Michelle Page, the Vermont Theatre Company production stars McBride in the lead role supported by Ran3dy Bright, Nancy Groff, Francis Hauert, Ian Hefele, Jon Mack, John Ogorzalek, Brenda Seitz and Margo Langlois.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m., on Fridays and Saturdays, Jan. 24, 25, 31 and Feb. 1, at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30, and at 3 p.m., on Sundays, Jan. 26 and Feb. 2.
General admission is $15; $12 for students, seniors and everyone on Thursdays and Sundays. Reservations for VTC’s production of "Nuts" can be made at 802-258-1344 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year is the 30th anniversary year for Vermont Theatre Company, a non-profit community theater company based in Brattleboro and dedicated to providing area audiences with high quality live performances and to encouraging new people to join its efforts by always holding open auditions for all productions. More information is at vermonttheatrecompany.org.