Guest host Jane Curtin presents three stories by the American master Shirley Jackson, from an evening at Symphony Space honoring her work. Jackson is the celebrated thriller writer most famous for dark tales like “The Lottery,” and “The Haunting of Hill House.” But she also wrote delicious, light-hearted domestic comedies. The first story on this program, “The Smoking Room,” falls somewhere between her two genres, as a confident co-ed confronts the Devil, who has turned up in her dorm.
Reader Cristin Milioti is a Tony-nominated actor who has had a varied career in musical theatre and television. On Broadway she has appeared in shows including “That Face,” “Stunning,” and “Once. “ On television she had featured roles in “How I Met Your Mother” and “A to Z.” Her films include “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
The second short—and slyly funny–piece by Jackson reminds us that we’re creatures of habit. A distracted husband returns from work to his house, and his family —but something’s not right. “Company for Dinner” is read by Stephen Kunken, whose stage credits include “The Columnist,” “High,” “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “Frost/Nixon,” “Proof,” and “Enron.” His many television credits include “Unforgettable,” “Blue Bloods,” “The Good Wife,” and the “Law & Order” franchise. On film he’s appeared in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Still Alice,” among other works.
On the first half of this program showcasing the works of Shirley Jackson, we hear her in a lighter vein. But “The Bus” reminds us that she’s also a master at turning ordinary events into the stuff of nightmares. An irritable old lady is in for a bumpy ride. Paul Giamatti is the reader. He’s currently starring in the Showtime series “Billions.” Among many other screen and stage credits he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film “Cinderella Man”, and has had roles in “Sideways,” “American Splendor,” “The Illusionist,” “Saving Mr. Banks,” “Straight Outta Compton,” and “Win Win.” He won multiple awards for his work on the television mini-series “John Adams;” other tv credits include “Too Big to Fail” and “Downton Abbey.”