In playwright Edward Albees new absurdist comedy, Me, Myself & I, Zachary Booth and Preston Sadleir play 28-year-old identical twins mired in a double-yoked identity crisis. Abandoned by their father years ago and shacked up with a controlling doctor (Brian Murray), their addled mother (Tony winner Elizabeth Ashley) cant tell them apart. Booths character, OTTO, declares at the plays outset that otto (Sadleir) no longer exists, much to the confusion of otto and ottos girlfriend.
Albee, now 82, has been exploring twinship in his works since 1960s The American Dream. I must have an identical twin brother somewhere, the gay Pulitzer-winning scribe told The Guardian in 2007. He was adopted when he was 18 days old and never met his biological parents; perhaps Albee sees shards of himself in the tormented OTTO and otto. This play is tough and emotional and heartbreaking to act, says 25-year-old Sadleir (opposite, left), yet funny and enjoyable to watch.
To win the roles, he and Booth (opposite, right) beat out real-life twin actors -- even though they look nothing alike. They say the casting directors noticed a fraternal bond between them.
We were told we had similarities in our physicality and in the way we talk, says Booth, 27, who also plays Glenn Closes bratty son on FXs Damages. Theres a quirkiness about us that reads similar, Sadleir adds. The pair, convinced they were each others ticket to success, stuck together as auditions intensified. We were dressing the same, Sadleir says. I was putting risers in my shoes to be the same height as Zach. We both put ski caps on. We were fighting for it!
While prepping for the play, the actors have willfully stayed tight, catching Shakespeare in the Park productions and bites to eat together in Manhattan, but they say their burgeoning friendship is the real deal. What remains uncertain, however, is how costume, hair, and makeup will render the blond and the brunette into mirror images of each other. This is an Edward Albee production, Booth says. Were willing to do whatever it takes. But, admits Sadleir, We both have fantastic hair. That is gonna be the hardest decision they have to make
Me, Myself & I opens September 12 at Playwrights Horizons Mainstage Theater in New York City.