Full Synopsis

Full Synopsis

Breathe is told in five "suites". It can be performed in one or two acts.

A note from the authors: The action begins on Friday, March 13, 2020 in Mexico City, Mexico and then transitions to New York City on March 30, 2020. The story continues in New York City through June of 2020. The Epilogue is set in a future New York City in a time when COVID-19 is no longer a threat to the human race. Since we have written our story in real time during the COVID-19 pandemic, we don't know when that day will come or what our world will look like. So we have imagined a beautiful July evening, the sun is about to set creating a phenomenon known as "Manhattanhenge." During this phenomenon, the setting sun perfectly aligns with the major streets of New York City, making the city feel like a modern Stonehenge.

I. FEVER – Alison, a Black nurse in her 20s, goes to Mexico City for a friend’s wedding, and wakes up the next morning in the bed of the best man -- Jerry, mid-20s, She has missed her flight, the US is in lockdown, and the only person she knows is the guy she hooked up with the night before. Things get complicated when she spikes a fever, and Jerry – a near stranger – offers his home to her. (Libretto: Jodi Picoult & Tim McDonald; Songwriters: Rob Rokicki and Rebecca Murillo)

II. ACHES – Theo, 30s, a financial analyst’s assistant, is writing a Dear John letter to break up with his boyfriend, Max, 30s, who is a Broadway performer. Before he can finish, Max comes home with the news that NYC is in lockdown. As Max “MacGyvers” their resources into a romantic dinner, Theo begins to remember why he fell in love with Max in the first place. And then, Max finds the unfinished letter. (Libretto: Jodi Picoult & Tim McDonald; Songwriters: Daniel J. Mertzlufft and Kate Leonard)

III. SWELLING AND IRRITATION – Kate, 40s, a financial analyst and her husband Adam, 40s, a high-powered divorce attorney, find themselves locked in a townhouse with their three children, no nanny, no parenting skills, and no end in sight. As they argue over whose job deserves precedence and struggle with online learning (who knew kindergarten could be so brutal?) they realize that working together is the only way to master the art of Co(rona)parenting. (Libretto: Jodi Picoult & Tim McDonald; Songwriters: Doug Besterman and Sharon Vaughn)

IV. FATIGUE – Devon (18, Black, brother of Alison from FEVER) is a young Black man in America. Shawn, his father, is a Black cop in America. After Devon is arrested during a George Floyd protest, the two men disagree on how justice is obtained. This generational divide could either heal or hurt their family forever. (Libretto: Douglas Lyons; story by Jodi Picoult & Tim McDonald; Songwriters: Douglas Lyons and Ethan D. Pakchar)

V. SHORTNESS OF BREATH – Vivian (50s) is reluctantly attending her husband Charles (50s) Zoom funeral, their marriage having long been eroded by infidelity and unspeakable losses. When Charles appears to Vivian as a ghost, they get a second chance to retrace what went wrong in their relationship, to say the things they didn’t get to say, and to grieve the ultimate twin losses of this pandemic: losing a loved one, and knowing they died alone. (Libretto: Jodi Picoult & Tim McDonald; Songwriters: Zina Goldrich and Marcy Heisler)