The playwright and director Richard Nelson débuted his intimate “Rhinebeck Panorama” series of plays in 2010, starting with That Hopey Changey Thing, which followed the fictional Apple family on the night of the midterm elections—the same night that the play opened. After four Apple installments, Nelson added two more imagined families, the Gabriels and the Michaels, and last year the Apples returned for a trio of Zoom plays. Though many of the scripts are anchored to political events, the news is just background in the lives of the characters, who are often seen preparing for a family meal. The twelfth and final play of the series, What Happened?: The Michaels Abroad, finds that clan of artists in France for a dance festival, grappling with the pandemic and the loss of their matriarch.
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