Pygmalion Theater Company’s season is coming to an end, but not before it concludes with what is arguably their most poignant production of the year. “Sweetheart Come,” by local playwright and screenwriter Melissa Leilani Larson, is set for its world premiere here in Utah. A play inspired by a true story about marriage, ambition and true love, it’s a production you won’t want to miss.
The production follows Emma Hauck, a newlywed in the early 20th century who is growing more and more wary of her husband’s political ambitions. When her expectations for married life don’t happen, Hauck proceeds to cope in the only way she can — finding solace in her writing. A coming-of-age plot is a catalyst for this production, and as Hauck learns to navigate her new life, she finds out more about herself than she’s ever known before. “Sweetheart Come” confronts difficult issues through Hauck’s character, such as mental illness stigmas, societal pressures and duty to one’s spouse. When it comes to putting the play in consideration with present times, Larson said, “I think the play takes a lot of tropes and shakes them up. I’m hoping that audiences will recognize and relate to the difficulties Emma experienced in 1909 because they are still very much applicable today in 2019.” Not only is the play written by a woman, but the main character’s growth and perception are also from the point of view of a woman, making this production even more worthwhile. After all, art is most impactful when it allows someone to look at things from a different point of view.
“Sweetheart Come” is a production that’s been in the making for a long time. In 2016, it was a semifinalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. However, Larson wrote the first draft of the play in 2014, and after several drafts, it went from something abstract to a reality. This editing process allowed Larson to get down to the details of her production. She said, “Overall, the story of the play is pretty simple, but there is something complicated and sinister happening just beneath the surface. I think the same can be said of the characters — they are much more real and complex than they seem at first if you are willing to dig a little deeper.”
Digging deeper is exactly what this production is about. It encourages empathy while breaking the stigma about isolation and unhappiness. Hauck’s journey throughout the production shines a light on many issues that are considered taboo in Utah, such as being unhappy in a marriage and openly discussing mental illness. Yet, it also shows one of the most therapeutic ways to deal with these issues — through art. “Sweetheart Come” promises redemption, understanding and enlightenment.
“Sweetheart Come” will be available to see from May 3 to May 18 at Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. Shows take place on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and on Sundays at 2:00 p.m., with an extra matinee on the final Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Tickets range from $15 to $20.
This show is intended for mature audiences only. No babes in arms will be allowed.