Saturn Returns: Get Out Your Handkerchiefs!

I caught a preview performance yesterday of Noah Haidle’s poignant play Saturn Returns at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater yesterday. I didn’t bring any Kleenex, but I should have.

Directed by Nicholas Martin, Saturn Returns is a triptych of the life of Gustin, a Grand Rapids, Mich., radiologist in 1948, 1978, and 2008, as he experiences his first, second, and third Saturn returns.

Astrology is never mentioned, but the playwright, who appears to be experiencing his own Saturn return, has a keen understanding of the language of loss and loneliness that the planet of restriction speaks so eloquently.

As befitting a play called Saturn Returns, it’s a sparse production, with Gustin at age 88, 58, and 28 played by three actors — John McMartin, James Rebhorn, and Robert Eli, respectively. The women in Gustin’s life are portrayed by the same thespian — the beautiful, versatile Rosie Benton. No other players are on stage and there are no intermissions.

Film buffs may know Rebhorn from his numerous screen and TV roles, including The Talented Mr. Ripley, My Cousin Vinny, and The Scent of a Woman. Throughout his career, Rebhorn has often appeared as the nerd or expert, a guy with a plastic pen holder in the pocket of his starched white shirt. Sure enough, he’s a Virgo born Sept. 1.

I like the fact that Gustin is a radiologist because that embodies the current opposition of Uranus in Pisces and Saturn in Virgo.

I’m no drama critic, but if Saturn Returns is representative of what Haidle is doing at 28, I can only imagine what his future holds. Is he the next Edward Albee? I took a friend who is an accomplished actress, Anney Giobbe, with me and she was also blown away by Haidle’s talent. Like Saturn, Haidle’s not going away.

Hey, this gives me an excuse to reprint my poll, “What Happened During Your Saturn Return?”

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