Playwrights Horizons presents playwright and performer Halley Feiffer’s blistering dark comedy The Pain of My Belligerence, directed by Trip Cullman, March 29-May 12. Across eight years and three Presidential elections, this play Feiffer and Cullman’s sixth collaboration holds the fraught power dynamics of a relationship up against the country’s current tug-of-war of regression and profound awakening regarding gender. Feiffer’s winsomely vicious writing (The New York Times) reaches new heights in this world premiere production, a Playwrights Horizons’ Harold and Mimi Steinberg Commission. Cullman’s direction of Feiffer’s work has been praised for evoking open-wound performances steered as close to festering as audiences’ stomachs allow (The New York Times). In The Pain of My Belligerence, Feiffer and Cullman wield the cutting social humor they’ve honed through six years of work together to shed light on how we perpetuate our roles within a patriarchal culture, looking towards the promise of a new paradigm.
In her prolific and dynamic career, Feiffer has written plays including Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow (which will be presented at MCC Theater this spring), I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard (Atlantic, OCC nomination), and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center of New York City (MCC, and in which Feiffer later also performed, at the Geffen in Los Angeles). She has written for multiple TV series including Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle and Showtime’s Kidding. She co-wrote and starred in the film He’s Way More Famous Than You, and has appeared on Broadway in the revivals of The Front Page and The House of Blue Leaves, Off-Broadway in productions including Roundabout Theatre Company’s Tigers Be Still (Drama League nomination), on series such as Mildred Pierce and Flight of the Conchords and films like The Squid and the Whale. In The Pain of My Belligerence, Feiffer plays the brilliant twenty-something Cat, a journalist at the top of her game: tack-sharp and ambitious, and rapidly establishing her place in the field. Cat meets the crass yet charismatic and married Guy, played by Hamish Linklater (Broadway: Seminar; Off-Broadway: The Public’s Cymbeline, Much Ado About Nothing, The Winter’s Tale), and the attrition begins.
The cast also features Vanessa Kai (Off-Broadway: KPOP at Ars Nova; Second Stage’a Somebody’s Daughter; TV: Madam Secretary, Orange Is the New Black ).The creative team includes Mark Wendland (Scenic Designer), Paloma Young (Costume Designer), Ben Stanton (Lighting Designer), Elisheba Ittoop (Original Music and Sound Designer), and Katie Ailinger (Production Stage Manager).
Feiffer began writing the play in the lead-up to the 2016 election, as she noticed the number of men loudly decrying Trump’s misogyny while simultaneously mirroring it. She explains, I was very interested in the hypocrisy of self-identifying liberals, because I see that hypocrisy in myself too. It goes hand in hand with a lot of profound frustrations common in heterosexual romantic relationships, which I’ve experienced myself particularly the corrosive effects of toxic masculinity on men and women alike.