Photo by Don Kellogg

Monday, July 18, 2011

Victory: Choices in Reaction

The sub-headline for this post should be "Between Follies".  That's because Jan Maxwell helms this heady, intelligent, no-small-undertaking of a play - in-between her Follies DC run and its transfer to Broadway.  Talk about a busy schedule!

Howard Barker's play is certainly not a run-of-the-mill work.  It takes place in the 1660's in England in the restoration period - which translates to a period when government was in chaos, political ideology was in flux between the economic forces, religious forces, and the old and new aristocracy.  I don't for a minute claim to be knowledgeable on this topic nor do I believe I understood everything going on.  What I do know is that Director, Richard Romagnoli has even further energized this powerful work by adding a rough edge to the production.  Pounding punk music and choreographed moves during each scene change add a dramatic contrast to the subject matter and time frame of the play.  Costumes and makeup add bite and drama to the already heightened tension of the story.

Despite the heady subject matter, the delivery by some of the actors was magnificent.  Of special mention is the stand-out performance by David Barlow who played Charles Stuart, A Monarch.  The monarch's extremely unstable mental state shown thru in Mr. Barlow's dynamic and potent portrayal.  Jan Maxwell seemed to immerse herself in the complex role of Bradshaw, The Widow of a Revolutionary and Steven Dykes equally impressed in his portrayal of Scrope, A Secretary (and several other minor characters also).

While this play might not be for everyone, I find more and more that off-Broadway houses produce such high quality work that while you might not think it your cup of tea, you're drawn in to a story, it's power, and the intimacy of the theatre that you find yourself enraptured, educated, and enthralled.  Next thing you know it's 10:45pm and you're dumped back out on the street wanting more.