This is a part of "Page to Stage" workshop, they have a four week rehearsal period then run for about a month, during which they keep changing the dialogue, direction, etc as it is considered to be being workshopped in front of the audience. Previous two productions ("I am my own wife" and "Billy Crystal's 300 Sundays") went to Broadway and got Tony awards (then had a national tour after the Broadway run), and another show (Zhivago) was officially produced at La Jolla Playhouse as a part of season subscription, so I hope this show will be produced in the future too.
It was Tuesday night and the theatre was pretty full (originally I had row M ticket but when I picked it up, I was upgraded to row C center seat) but I didn't see Aaron in the theatre :( I have a feeling after "The Apple Tree" closes in New York, Chenoweth may come to see this show. I'm sure many TWW alumni are flocking to La Jolla too.
The play is dialogue-heavy, which is expected and goes through very fast pace (it runs for 2 hours with intermission). In the program it says that it was originally written for a film, so in the beginning there were many descriptive dialogues and didn't feel like the play is very theatrical, however, after Farnworth meets Crocker in San Francisco to apply for a grant, it seems to start clicking.
Act 2 starts with Black Monday scene without much explanation and you wonder what's this incident related to Farnworth? But indeed Aaron successfully connects the dots. And this is one of the most theatrical scenes (unfortunately, Des McAnuff said that it might be trimmed down -- it was "Talk Back Tuesday" where the cast/crew share their insights of the show)
The cast is very strong, especially Jimmi Spencer who plays Farnworth is perfect for the genius. As an added bonus, Andrew Lippa, a musical composer, created original music for this play. I strongly recommend anybody who lives in So California to trek down to La Jolla if you have a chance.
Here are some of the questions that you had:
Farnsworth's "first picture" -- is it smoke? And is it from Pem's cigarette?
Yes, it was smoke from Pem's cigarette.
Farnsworth and Zworykin - do they meet in a bar?
Yes, according to the script (which McAnuff said it's based on the history but not necessary everything in the play really happened), Zworykin was sent to SF and they met in a bar.
The patent litigation - does it portray Farnsworth as winning or losing the critical patent infringement suits with RCA?
If I must say, I'd say they hinted that Farnsworth was losing the suits, but then they got a good lead before the trial. And we all know what happened.
Let me know if you have any other questions about the play.