The play takes place in New York in 1919. A young publisher named John Pace Seavering has enough money to publish one book. He is torn between publishing the gargantuan novel of his former college roommate, and perhaps more than friend, Denis McCleary. His other option is to publish the memoirs of his mistress, Jessie Brewster. Denis needs the book published so that he can look good in front of the father of the woman that he is in love with. Jessie, however, needs her memoirs published because of her life expectancy running out. Then a mysterious, paper spewing machine enters. The papers are from books that have information about the lives of the characters and their futures. Gidger, Seavering's assistant, learns that he becomes a person of no importance and that his dog becomes famous. Seavering learns from these papers that he becomes a well-to-do publisher and no matter whose book he publishes, he will either lose his mistress or his friend.
Cast of characters
- John Pace Seavering - publisher
- Jessie Brewster - John's mistress
- Denis McCleary - college roommate, friend and author
- Rosamund Plinth - Denis' new girlfriend
- Gidger - John's assistant
The Violet Hour was commissioned by and originally produced by South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa, California, and premiered there from November 5 through 24, 2002. Directed by Evan Yionoulis, the cast featured Hamish Linklater as Seavering and Mario Cantone as Gidger.
The play debuted on Broadway on November 6, 2003. This was the first play produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club (MTC) in the renovated Biltmore Theatre. MTC's production cast featured Robert Sean Leonard as Seavering, Scott Foley as Denis McClear and Cantone reprising his role as Gidger, and ran for 54 performances, the planned length of its subscription run. Evan Yionoulis again directed. The production was nominated for the 2004 Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Lighting Design (Donald Holder).
- Theater Tribe (Los Angeles) - March 23 through April 19, 2008
- University Theatre (University of Chicago) - Opening: December, 2011 (1 preview, 3 performances)
- Coca Black Box Theater (St. Louis) - Opening: August 23, 2012 (10 performances)
- The Violet Hour scr.org, accessed March 8, 2016
- Oxman, Steven. "Review: ‘The Violet Hour’" Variety, November 12, 2002
- "The Violet Hour". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
- Brantley, Ben. "Theatre Review: Jazz Generation Sees The Future: It's Not Cool" The New York Times, November 7, 2003 (subscription required)
- "Theatre Review (LA): The Violet Hour by Richard Greenberg at Theatre Tribe". Blogcritics. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
- "The Violet Hour". Max&Louie Productions. Retrieved August 13, 2012.