“Deep Six Holiday,” a play written and directed by FDU’s very own Professor David Landau had its premiere at Ridgedale School Theater in Florham Park on Jan. 25. Being shown to Landau’s home crowd of 17 years, Florham Park, the play ran on Jan. 26, and again on Feb. 1 and 2.

“Deep Six Holiday” is described as “a new romantic comedy about murder, lust and writing cheap detective novels” by The Florham Park Players on their Web site (collaborations.com/FPP). An award winning comedy/mystery, the play has been shown on the “off-off Broadway circuit.”

“Deep Six Holiday” is based around protagonist James, a pulp mystery novelist, according to The Florham Park Players’ Web site. While at his editor’s beach cottage to write a novel, he meets his neighbor’s wife, Julia, and a secret relationship emerges. Meanwhile Julia’s husband dies, just like in James’ novel. Wrapped up in his own novel, James doesn’t know if he’s writing the story or if the story is re-writing his own life.

Landau, a film and theater professor, is currently teaching several classes at the College at Florham including Production I, Screenwriting I and Stage Combat. He described the play as a “sensuous and fun mystery” which “college age people would truly enjoy.” Landau explained that he has been writing plays ever since he was in college and was inspired to write “Deep Six Holiday” after being introduced to the novels of Raymond Chandler and James Cain by a close friend. He was particularly interested in the dark humor and sexual tension that was present in such classic mysteries as “The Big Sleep” and “Double Indemnitiy,” Landau wrote in his playwright notes.

“I wanted to see if it was possible to bring that sensuous, sarcastic mystery style to live theater and do it in first person,” he said.

“Deep Six Holiday” also puts an interesting spin on the normal play setup by being told entirely through a flashback, Landau explained. In most plays, the fourth wall — which is the invisible wall that separates the actors on stage from the audience – is up; allowing the actions on stage to
remain almost in another dimension which cannot be permeated by the audience.

The play “Deep Six Holiday,” on the other hand, “breaks the ‘fourth wall’ by allowing the main character
to talk directly to the audience,” Landau said.

The play itself has had a long and ever-improving history. Writing the first draft of the play during the early 80s, Landau put his own money into the first production of the play in 1989, he explained in his
playwright notes. Shown at East 74th Street in New York City, the play was well liked by audiences. Despite this, Landau lost his own money investment in the play and no producers turned out, he wrote. “Deep Six Holiday” has changed a lot since then.

“It has matured and gained experience,” Landau wrote in his playwright notes. “For a playwright, every production of a play gives the writer new ideas and a fresh outlook – we see many things that
can be changed, deleted or added.” Since its first production, the play has been rewritten various times and has even won first place in 1991 at the Futurefest Playwriting contest in Columbus, Ohio,
Landau wrote.

“After each production, I would rework the words, the scenes, the act break,” he
said.

In fact, “Deep Six Holiday,” was even offered the chance to be turned into a television movie, but later turned down by Showtime. The version shown at Florham Park was all new, and “a version of this
story that has never been told before,” Landau wrote. It has been the result of countless rewrites and endless hours of input by Landau himself, and such experienced film enthusiasts as Emmy award
winning producer Susan Aronson.

Landau has worked professionally in the film and television industry as a producer, director and camera man. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild and Mystery Writers of America. Landau has always had a passion for anything in the theater and film realm.

“I’ve always been a writer, and theater has always been a great joy of mine, so I started writing plays,” Landau said.

As Landau wrote in his playwright notes, he is probably best known for being “the inventor of the popular interactive mystery play, having written and produced 100s of productions internationally
for the public and private corporations.”

Landau has also written several award-winning scripts: including “Murder at Café Noir” and “Stab in the Dark,” according to his personal page on the FDU Web site. The professor is also the founder and artistic director of Murder To Go Productions and is featured on the IMDB Web site.

The future looks bright for Landau, who is currently working on bringing his play to new heights.

“It’s great finally being able to see this version up on its feet,” Landau said. “We are taking it to NYC for a backer’s audition, for invited theater producers. I have both a theater agent and a film producer interested in the play.”

LORENA CHOUZA
Published in the February 14, 2008 issue of The Metro.

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