Exclusive: New York Playwright David Bar Katz Loves Truth or Dare and Gin Martinis


Not sure where to find good, affordable theatre in New York? We are. Opening on December 4th, the second season of the scaled-down productions of Public LAB will feature a new show from hilarious writer David Bar Katz that bears the warning: “not suitable for audiences under 18: it contains nudity, profanity and raunch.”

The play, Philip Roth in Khartoum, was inspired by Katz’s real life group of friends — a bunch of caregiver dads with creative industry gigs who gather for coffee each morning after they drop their kids off at P.S. 234 on Greenwich Street: “It’s funny, we all have these wives with type-A jobs and we’re hanging out together for a few hours talking each morning.” When the play’s fictional versions of these guys come together for a party that includes their aforementioned wives, it leads to a game of Truth or Dare. “The guys still act collegiate, yet they’re supposed to be a group of sophisticated grownups. Sometimes it gets a little outrageous with the nudity, but you know it hasn’t been a successful party unless someone gets naked.”

In the tradition of Ibsen and Albee, Philip Roth in Khartoum uses the setting of a cocktail party as delightful pressure cooker to examine “the destructive power of truth and the devastating impact of bad sex, autism, Philip Roth, absinthe and genocide on husbands and wives during an intimate evening with friends” — subject matter that might not have worked as well on the big screen. “You can put anything that you want to express on paper when you’re writing a play,” Katz explains. “I know I have great actors who will make it happen. With screenwriting there is a minute chance that your script is going to get made, and even if it does you can’t say 95 percent of the things you’d like to. Those creative limitations don’t exist when I’m working with the LAB.”

So where did he pen this slice of New York life? “Bars,” he says with a laugh. “Writing is so solitary and working in a bar creates the illusion of being social. Plus, I’ve read that one sign of alcoholism is drinking by yourself, so this helps me avoid that.” What’s his poison? “Martinis. And there are only so many bars downtown where you can get a good martini that early in the day — like before 5 p.m. Raoul’s. Schiller’s. Freemans. I used to hang out in dive bars more before I made the switch from beer to gin in my 30s. I like it up, stirred, with olives. The gin has to be Plymouth. If I even hear someone ordering a vodka martini, I’ll leap across the room and confront them. That might explain why a good ten minutes of the play is about martinis.”

Tickets to Philip Roth in Khartoum cost you only 10 bucks; to get yours now click here.