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Checking In With Jill Eikenberry of “The Two Hander”

In Julia Blauvelt’s The Two Hander, Claire (Ella Dershowitz) is reluctant to undergo psychotherapy. But a tentative bond forms between her and Diana (Jill Eikenberry), her unorthodox, sharp-witted therapist, in this show, currently running at New Jersey Repertory Company in a production directed by SuzAnne Barabas. Garden State Journal spoke to Eikenberry – a four-time Emmy nominee and Golden Globe winner for L.A. Law – about her work on the show.

Garden State Journal: How would you describe your character in The Two Hander?

Jill Eikenberry: Diana is a Classics scholar and a brilliant therapist whose methods are somewhat unorthodox.

GSJ: What are your thoughts on therapy?

Eikenberry: I believe that a good therapist can change your life dramatically. I’ve been in therapy a number of times, and I’m currently in my fifteenth year with a brilliant therapist whose methods are somewhat unorthodox. To quote the play she has helped me “cross from one place of knowing to another.”

GSJ: How did you get involved with NJ Rep?

Eikenberry: In 2013, I did a play at 59E59 called Jericho by Jack Canfora, directed by Evan Bergman. Evan is the associate artistic director of NJ Rep, and a year later he directed my husband, Michael Tucker’s first play, The M Spot, at NJ Rep. In 2018, I was in my husband’s next play, Fern Hill, at the Rep. And last summer they produced Mike’s third play, A Tailor Near Me.  NJ Rep has become our theatrical home and Gabe and Suzanne Barabas have become close friends. So, when a wonderful young playwright named Julia Blauvelt wrote The Two Hander with me in mind, I sent it to Suzanne and asked if she might be interested in producing it.  Luckily for us she also wanted to direct it.

GSJ: How do you choose your projects?

Eikenberry: I’m not as driven to be on the stage as I used to be, but when a really juicy role comes along, I jump. My role in The Two Hander is one of those.

GSJ: What do you hope the audience gets from the show?

Eikenberry: The audience members I’ve spoken to since we opened have all said that they were deeply involved with the two characters and that the play made them reflect on their lives and their choices as well as their concerns about the future. One friend said that when the play started he thought it was going to be an interesting conversation and by the end it had become “epic.” I can’t ask for more than that.

Tickets to The Two Hander can be purchased here.