Have any surprises emerged during rehearsals? "I think more than anything, the movement of all of the characters," he replies. "Everybody really changes in a huge way, and I didn't get that from reading it as much." He gives an example: "Eva is almost completely different in each act, because, well, she's drunk in the first two acts and she's sober in the last act."

This Ayckbourn classic takes place in England in the 1970s. So what releases it from being time- and culture-bound?

The director doesn't have to think about that one. "As with any realistic play, it's really specific," he notes. "And its specificity creates its universality.

"To do the play as written, only to do it in American accents in 2010, I think would just make it seem flaccid, as opposed to really incisively specific," McEleney says. "We look at them and we say, 'Oh my God, we're just like them 40 years later on another continent. Nothing has changed.'"

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