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From the penthouse to mom’s house. A riches-to-rags story asking “can you ever really go home again?”

Fabulation or, The Re-Education of Undine

by Lynn Nottage
Directed by Dawn M. Simmons
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RUNNING TIME: Approximately 2 hours, including one 15 minute intermission.
2022/23 Season Sponsors:
Paul Kastner
G. Lee & Diana Humphrey
Director Dawn Meredith Simmons, Sponsored by Sally & Richard Zeckhauser
Costume Designer Rachel Padula-Shufelt, Sponsored by Ruth Rotundo Whitney
This production uses strobe lighting effects. 


Success. Love. Fabulous wardrobe. Undine has it all. Until her husband steals her hard-earned fortune, sending her tumbling down the social ladder. Pregnant and penniless, with life unraveling at every turn, Undine is forced to return home to Brooklyn and the family she left behind, in a complicated new reality. In this satirical comedy by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage (Intimate ApparelMeet Vera StarkSweat) while life unravels, hope can be found in small victories and in the discovery of finding happiness within.
Content Warning: Strong language. Contains descriptions and depictions of cocaine and heroine drug use and mentions of abortion. This production uses strobe lighting effects.
Scene 1: In present-day New York City, businesswoman Undine, the head of her own boutique PR firm, is scrambling to secure a celebrity guest for a charity event the same evening. Her Argentinian husband, Hervé, abruptly left her just that morning. Undine’s accountant enters, informing her that throughout their marriage, Hervé had been siphoning money out of her accounts – she is broke. The accountant begs her to consider bankruptcy, but Undine staunchly refuses to give up the business. Her assistant, Stephie, enters with an FBI agent who accuses Undine of identity fraud; the Bureau has no record of her existence beyond fourteen years prior. She asks everyone to step outside, and then addresses the audience. She reveals that she left home at thirteen and worked her way to the top of the business world. Fourteen years ago, Black Enterprise magazine misprinted that her family had died in a fire, but Undine explains that she chose to embrace it as if it were true. She recalls meeting Hervé at a New Year’s Eve party, briefly mentioning their green-card marriage and travels before a severe chest pain she calls Edna causes her to nearly collapse.
Scene 2: On an exam table in the doctor’s office, the doctor asks if Undine has recently experienced any undue stress, diagnosing her episode with Edna as a severe anxiety attack. She is offended at the notion that she would be anxious. But then the doctor reveals something else – she is pregnant. Undine once again addresses the audience, detailing to us the night she and Hervé met and fell in love.
Scene 3: Back in Undine’s office, she and socialite Allison discuss the scandal, which has been printed in the Daily News. Undine laments that already she’s become a social pariah, and that Allison is the only person who’s visited since the news broke. Allison brushes Undine off when she asks if she can stay with her, desperate to retain her social standing. After she leaves, a Yoruba priest recommended by Undine’s accountant enters the office. He informs Undine that she’s angered Elegba, the gatekeeper of the African spiritual world. Elegba demands a sacrifice of one thousand dollars and tells Undine to visit home, and she begrudgingly complies. 
Scene 4: At her family’s home in Brooklyn, Undine’s mother tells her she can stay with them. Her younger brother Flow, however, is bitter that she abandoned them. Flow is working on a poem exploring the role of the trickster in African mythology, which Undine explains to the audience is his method of coping with the horrors he saw during Desert Storm. Her father mentions that a family friend has been killed, and laments the systemic injustice of the system. Undine’s parents, she reveals, couldn’t pass the police exam for this very reason, so they work as security guards at Long Island University. Mother mistakenly calls her Sharona – Undine’s given name, which she discarded when she disowned her family. Undine worries about her grandmother, who has been falling asleep in her chair, but Mother insists it’s a result of her diabetes. Undine becomes nauseous and excuses herself.
Scene 5: In Grandma’s room, which Undine is sharing with her, she gently scolds Undine for not coming home sooner, asking why she’s back and if she is ashamed of her family. Undine dodges the questions about her business, but reveals that she worries she’s not a good enough person to be a parent. Grandma asks Undine to hand over her medicine, which Undine quickly realizes is heroin. Grandma confesses that her “diabetes” is a cover for her drug habit, and that she uses as an escape from the depression of her everyday life. Undine tries to tell Mother, but she doesn’t believe her. Grandma then guilts Undine into buying more heroin for her, but the deal gets busted and Undine is arrested.
Scene 6: In the prison cell, Undine gets into a verbal altercation with an inmate, then bursts into tears. A second inmate tries to comfort her, but Undine asserts that she doesn’t belong there. The inmate tells her that she was arrested for defending herself against a catcaller, and that none of them really belong there. A judge sentences Undine to six months compulsory drug counseling; if she fails to complete it, she will be sentenced to jail for one year.
ACT TWO Scene 1: At an NA meeting five weeks into her sentence, Undine makes up a story about abusing drugs to tell the group. Overcome with real emotion, however, she reveals she is pregnant and doesn’t know if she wants the baby. A guy at the meeting asks her out on a date, and she accepts. On their date, Guy tells Undine about how he got clean, and that he is getting ready to take the fireman’s exam. He asks her out a second time; despite herself, Undine is drawn to his sincerity.
Scene 2: On the street, two of Undine’s high school friends recognize her. They exchange pleasantries, through which Undine discovers that one of them, Devora, is a senior financial planner. Devora briefly pities the businesswoman Undine’s downfall, not realizing that she and the Undine before her are one and the same. Before she leaves, she offers for Undine to join the financial planning program she’s set up for underprivileged women.
Scene 3: Undine endures the bureaucracy of Social Services for over two hours. Frustrated, she starts a small riot and is medically removed from the building. Several weeks later, she is able to see a doctor.
Scene 4: In the clinic waiting room, a clearly anxious pregnant woman tries to make conversation with Undine. She almost has another anxiety attack, but uncharacteristically reassures the other woman that she is scared too. Back in the examination room, the doctor tells Undine that she is six and a half months along, and she should have come in sooner. Undine replies that losing her money also meant losing access to healthcare, and this was her first chance to get an appointment. The doctor prescribes her prenatal vitamins and asks if Undine wants to hear the baby’s heartbeat; she is unsure. She asks if the baby knows what she’s feeling. The doctor responds that he doesn’t know, but he likes to think they can.
Scene 5: At the pharmacy, Undine runs into Stephie, who is now working there; she insists it is temporary. As she returns to stocking the aisles, Stephie asks Undine if she is happy. She doesn’t respond; instead, she steals the vitamins and leaves.
Scene 6: Back at home, Mother tells Undine that someone called for her while she was at the doctor. Frustrated that no one will answer her questions about who it was, Undine yells at Grandma and the rest of the family. Flow interrupts her by beginning to recite his poem, until he abruptly runs out of words and stops. Undine’s family reveals that they read the Black Enterprise article, and Undine assures them that she was misquoted. Father says that their family is inside of Undine, and that this is her home whether she likes it or not. Undine buys more heroin for Grandma and tells us that she is ready to resign herself to her fate, until she finds out that Hervé has been caught.
Scene 7: Undine confronts Hervé in the prison visiting room. She tells him that he has given up his parental rights, and that she was generous to agree to a green card marriage. Hervé counters that he was honest about what he was looking for, but Undine was not; and that now is the first time they truly see face to face. Undine reflects that she was proud of not needing love, but that was when she knew she was loved.
Scene 8: At NA, Guy tells Undine that he will accompany her to birthing classes if she needs someone to go with. As she considers this offer, Edna begins to flare up and the baby kicks. Guy tells her that she makes him happy. Undine confesses that she feels rage and anger most of the time, particularly at herself. She tells Guy and the addicts that at her college graduation, she ignored her family because she heard people mocking them and wanted to protect her dignity. She goes on to reveal that the Black Enterprise “misprint” about her family’s death was a lie she intentionally told; finally, too, she tells them that she is being investigated by the FBI and isn’t actually addicted to heroin. Aside from the group, Undine tells him that she wants to change but that she’s afraid she can’t. Guy kisses her and she reciprocates, then starts to go into labor.
Scene 9: In the delivery room, Guy tells Undine to breathe. She tells us that she is holding her breath, holding on. Her family enters, telling her to breathe, and finally she lets go and does. Her baby is born.
Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States 
** Represented by United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829 of the IATSE
° Stage Directors and Choreographers Society  

Press & Reviews

A woman goes from riches to rags in Lyric Stage's 'Fabulation' | The ARTery | Jacquinn Sinclair 
"The complexity of Undine—her insatiable thirst for success (inspired by her love of Edith Wharton's "The Custom of the Country," which details the social ascent of Undine Spragg), her harshness toward others, and later, a slow softening—is thoughtfully executed."
A fallen entrepreneur reconnects with the community she left behind in 'Fabulation' | The Boston Globe | Don Aucoin
"It warms the heart. It feels like a homecoming."
'Fabulation or, The Re-Education of Undine' Review } METRMag.com | Kevin T. Baldwin
"A bravura performance from Lyndsay Allyn Cox"
Smart, Funny “Fabulation” Entertains at the Lyric | Theater Mirror | Michele Markarian
"While Undine/Sharona is an unlikely Pilgrim, her road home is paved with cleverness and humor, and for that alone, it’s worth seeing."
'Fabulation': A Woman Who Is Down But Not Out | On Boston Stages | Rich Fahey
"Director Dawn M. Simmons has assembled a hard-working, pitch-perfect ensemble that takes on a huge variety of roles seamlessly and skillfully."
Fabulation: Or, the Re-education of Undine | Review| WGBH | Jared Bowen
"Bowen calls the production “wickedly funny,” with “so much heart as we watch Undine go through this journey home and become acquainted with the way she is.” Grappling with notions of home, what it means to go home, and what happens when you have to return home, "Fabulation" serves as both a question and criticism of societal expectations."

Ticket Prices

Single Tickets
Play Center Musical Center Play Side Musical Side
ST Wed Mat $55 $60 $40 $45
ST Weeknight $70 $75 $50 $55
ST Weekend $75 $80 $55 $60
20% Prices for Group Sales
Play C Musical C Play S Musical S
ST Wed Mat $44 $48 $32 $36
ST Weeknight $56 $60 $40 $44
ST Weekend $60 $64 $44 $48


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