Max Cole-Takanikos is the first friend I made when I moved out to Whidbey Island almost seven years ago. I was attending my first play on the island, a production of Orphans starring Ken Church, Ed Cornachio and Dave Gignac. Susie Richards, who was the site supervisor for the South Whidbey AmeriCorps team, grabbed me by the elbow and said, “Oh, you just HAVE to meet, Max. He’s into theatre, just like you!”

And thus a legendary friendship was born.

Max and I have worked together on eight productions together, including a one-act play we co-wrote, called Chemistry. We have played Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara, James Bond and Vesper Lynd and Mr. Toad and various human roles in The Wind in the Willows. We have also eaten a box of 24 corn dogs in one sitting between the two of us. (Yes, Max was able to eat many more than I was.)


(The Wind in the Willows, Whidbey Children’s Theatre, Photos by Sue Frause.)

Why Torture is Wrong and the People Who Love Them will be our ninth production together. I play Felicity, and he plays my husband, Zamir—who I have no recollection of meeting or marrying. It’s written by one of my favorite playwrights, Christopher Durang. I’ve loved Durang since college, when I directed a production of Beyond Therapy for my senior project.

The play is a satire about terrorism and “homeland insecurity.” Durang is a master of comic absurdity—the script is well-written with dialogue that snaps, crackles and pops. And I couldn’t be happier to have Max as my extremely bi-polar husband who’s possibly a terrorist.

Theatre is family. That’s why I keep coming back. That is why I love this community of South Whidbey theatre artists. Max is like the brother I never had. Ned Farley and Andrew Grenier are the uncles that know best and give sage advice. Ahna Dunn-Wilder and Melanie Lowey are my sisters (forever!) And Amy Wheeler and Kate Buzzard are my radical feminist aunts, constantly creating scripts with powerful female protagonists. And the audience is family, too.

I hope you’ll come and see me and Max and the rest of the crazy family of Why Torture is Wrong and the People Who Love Them. We’ll save a table for you at Hooters. 😉


Why Torture is wrong and the People Who Love Them runs July 11-26. Purchase your tickets here!