Irishman Jason O'Mara, now a familiar American TV face as detective Sam Tyler in the US version of Life on Mars, has returned to the UK stage to star in Simon Curtis’ Donmar Warehouse revival of Lanford Wilson’s 1970 play Serenading Louie.

In Wilson’s portrait of two suburban American couples, friends since college, Carl and Alex, are struggling to deal with the harsh realities of adulthood as they enter their thirties. Disillusioned by work and fighting to keep their marriages alive, they’re desperately trying to make sense of it all. O’Mara plays Carl opposite American Jason Butler Harner, making his UK stage debut as Alex. The wives are played by Britons Charlotte Emmerson and Geraldine Somerville .

O’Mara’s previous UK stage credits include Popcorn, The Jew of Malta and School for Scandal. On television in the US, where he now lives, he’s also been seen in Grey’s Anatomy, The Agency, In Justice, Men in Trees, Criminal Minds and Band of Brothers.


Jason O'Mara: My character Carl is a man who has arrived at the point of his life where he sort of feels like he has to re-evaluate happiness. He pretty much has everything he could possibly want: he has a beautiful wife, he also has some family money, he has a fantastic job, he's a millionaire. He went to Northwestern University in Chicago and was a very famous quarterback who played in the Big Ten league, and he has a beautiful house in the suburbs of Chicago, so you'd think “what more could you want?”

But there's something not quite right in Carl. And when real life comes crashing in, when he finds something out about his wife, he doesn't really have the tools to cope with that. Part of the play, at least Carl's story, deals with how he copes with this thing that's happening within his marriage. The wake of that is recovery, that is, if he ever does recover.

That's been interesting to explore. I was sort of with Carl for a while during the play. In other words, I could relate an awful lot to what Carl was experiencing about being in your thirties and adjusting to married life and having a child - your life changes and your priorities change, in a good way. But then there's a point in the play where he starts thinking about taking fairly extreme measures to deal with the problem.

Obviously, that's when I related to him less personally and had to find more sympathetic ways to bring his dilemma to life. This is what we're discovering, and hopefully these things will come across in the performance.

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Serenading Louie opened on 16 February 2010 (previews from 11 February) at the Donmar Warehouse, where it continues until 27 March. It then tours to Salford (30 March-3 April), Leicester (6-10 April) and Truro (13-17 April).