A comical intervention by some critical friends

Amie Lytle appears in the new comedy, “Robyn is Happy,” from Hub Theatre Company of Boston, through November 11.

If you foresee disaster looming in a friend’s romantic relationship, is it fair game to speak up?  And if you do speak up, will your criticism ruin your own relationship with that friend?
Those are the challenges faced in “Robyn is Happy,” kicking off the fifth season at Hub Theatre Company of Boston. Performances run through Nov. 11 at the First Church of Boston. All performances are “pay-what-you-can.”

In the East Coast premiere of Michael Elyanow’s dark and unpredictable comedy, Robyn is smitten with a new suitor. However, her lifelong pals think she’s making a mistake.  A huge mistake.  A mistake that could alter her life forever.

The piece has been termed a biting blend of “Sex and the City” and “Titus Andronicus.”
Amie Lytle plays Robyn in the ensemble production (with Christine Dickinson and Lauren Elias).  The Albany native studied theater and English at Muhlenberg College, including a brief visit to Ireland.  She later attended the prestigious Actors Studio Drama School in New York before eventually settling in Boston in 2013.   

Locally, she has appeared with Shakespeare Now!, Harbor Stage, Boston Theater Company and Bridge Rep, among others. She also appeared in “Finish Line,” the emotional Boston Marathon documentary play.  In addition to her stage career, she teaches yoga in Boston and on Cape Cod.

We spoke while “Robyn” was in rehearsals.  Here’s a condensed look at our conversation.

Q. “Robyn is Happy” touches on a timeless irritation – unsolicited advice from friends. Everyone’s suffered through it at one time or another.
A. People will relate to this play.  It gets ridiculous . . . It’s so fun and funny and heart breaking and cringe-worthy sometimes . . . I‘ve had some friends my whole life.  They love my husband, but I have had that experience of having a boyfriend they think is not good enough for you . . . I value honesty and loyalty, so I think I’d want people to tell me the truth.  But it can be hard.

Q. Some friends have a long memory when you criticize a potential partner who later turns out to be “the one.”
A. To be honest, I have been in that position where a friend broke up with somebody, I told them what I thought, and now they’re married. And it’s sort of awkward.  I’m not super close to them any more and maybe that’s why. Who knows?  It’s a tricky thing.

Q.  You mentioned your husband.  How did you meet?
A. We actually met online.  On his profile it said that he liked theater . . . I found out later the only play he’d seen was “Book of Mormon.”  I was like, okay. But now he sees so many shows.  Obviously he comes to my shows, sometimes as many as four times. He’s very supportive.  And then he’ll want to see my friends’ shows. He gets into it.

Q. For the sake of love you overlooked the little white lie?
A.  (My profile) said I liked sports, which was kind of an exaggeration, as well. (Laughing)  In our vows, he said, “I’m so glad I lied and my profile said I loved theater.”

Q.  I’m curious how your yoga practice informs your acting.
A. I do think it’s like the perfect balance for acting. They go together really well.  I always do yoga before a show.  It helps me connect with my breath, be more present, be really in tune with how I’m feeling, how I’m doing.  With some of the pressures that can easily get in your head . . . yoga helps me to just let it all go.

Q. Tell me about your time in Ireland when you were an undergrad.
A. It was an acting and writing program.  We spent a semester reading a lot of Irish plays, a lot of Irish literature.  (Then), when we were actually in Ireland, we created a performance piece about (an) experience on a farm in Kilkenny . . . I remember sitting with these cows in Kilkenny and thinking about Irish plays that I loved and thinking, this is so cool.

Q. In “Finish Line,” you portrayed Erika Brannock, the teacher from Baltimore who lost her leg in the Marathon bombing.  It must be daunting to portray a person who’s sitting in the audience on opening night.
A. There is a little bit more pressure . . . because this is a real person and she went though this and I want to capture her spirit and tell her story . . . She’s such a funny, generous person, even after everything she went through.  I will treasure that experience forever . . . You don’t always hear the stories of all these heroes like Erica, who’s a preschool teacher, a wonderful sister and daughter, who lost her leg and had to learn how to keep going . . . It’s a beautiful project and I’m very proud I got to be a part of it.

Q. In terms of making that sort of emotional connection, tell me about studying at The Actors Studio.  They favor method acting?
A. It’s method acting . . . but it’s not the way Hollywood portrays method acting, [which is] “you become the character. You never leave the character” . . . This is more extreme preparation.  You’re really researching what it’s like to be your character . . . What is daily life like? . . . When have you felt like your character felt?  What can you relate to that? . . . Very focused on the preparation, and then connecting to your stories.

Q. Was your time there worth the intense emotional investment?
A. I’ve never worked so hard, but I know it’s served me so well.

R. J. Donovan is editor and publisher of onstageboston.com.
“Robyn is Happy,” Hub Theater Company of Boston, through Nov. 11.  First Church Boston, 66 Marlborough St. hubtheatreboston.org.