Friday, March 11, 2022

Review of Hadestown (Broadway in Chicago)


Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Hadestown. The music, lyrics, and book were by Anaïs Mitchell and it was developed with and directed by Rachel Chavkin. The music supervision and vocal arrangements were by Liam Robinson and the choreography was by David Neumann. It was about Orpheus (Nicholas Barasch) and Eurydice (Morgan Siobhan Green) who met at the railway to Hell. Hermes (Levi Kreis) encourages them to fall in love and narrates the story to the audience. Persephone (Kimberly Marable) has returned up above bringing spring with her and leaving Hades (Kevyn Morrow) behind, but as Orpheus and Eurydice fall more deeply in love, Persephone reluctantly prepares to return to the underworld. This show explores love, trust, and capitalism through heartfelt music, dynamic movement, and detailed character work. 

I love how intimate this musical feels even though most of the theaters this production will be playing in seat hundreds of people. The cast creates this bond with the audience from the first moments and it is palpable throughout. At the beginning of the show, Hermes introduces us to all the characters we will see. Kreis made a point of making the audience feel like he was connecting with every single audience member through directing his lines not only to the people in the front row but also to the balcony. This gave off a very presentational energy but the actor's high intensity didn't make the message or storytelling feel any less genuine or personal. This is something I have rarely felt in a large-house show. Marable as Persephone also had a really great connection with the audience and the ensemble. As she was making the people at the railroad station fall in love with her, the audience was enamored too. Her energy was so welcoming and she took moments to glance at the audience and wordlessly joke with them about the events on stage. 

I absolutely loved both the style and execution of the movement in this production. It was very fluid and felt like every movement led into the next. It had a lot of attack and seemed very passionate.  There was a compelling contrast being the way the gods moved and the way that Hades's workers (Sydney Parra, Will Mann, Lindsey Hailes, Jamari Johnson Williams, and Chibueze Ihuoma) moved. Hades's workers were very uniform and regimented in their movement. And even when they were not moving together, it felt like they were staggering the same movements. This constant movement during most of the second act from the workers made for an intense and realized atmosphere, which kept the fact of their roles as human cogs in the capitalist machine present in the minds of the audience. On the other hand, the gods and the Fates (Belén Moyano, Bex Odorisio, and Shea Renne) had a jazz-based and exuberant movement. The gods are usually very poised and celebratory, however, as Persephone is having an internal battle about her relationship with her husband, Hades, she starts to convulse, using her movement to demonstrate the torment she is going through. This was not a side of Persephone we viewed when she was on the surface with humans; it is only apparent in the underworld. This was very effective and made her a more complex and lovable character. 

I really connected to and was impressed by the metaphors present in this play, especially those referring to self doubt. The myth has always seemed to me about a lack of trust in one’s partner, but here it feels more about lack of faith in one’s self. Within this production the Chorus of Fates represent many internal debates that the humans go through. However, the one that ends up feeling the most crushing is how Orpheus slowly and brutally loses all the confidence Eurydice has built up in him across their tender and heart-wrenchingly beautiful relationship. Orpheus is then separated from the thing he loved most because of his own self doubt and fear of not being enough for Eurydice. This reflects one of Eurydice’s critical moments earlier in the play in the song “When the Chips are Down.” The fates circle and entrance Eurydice into selling her soul to Hades, both literally and figuratively. This song’s harmonies are so tight and mesmerizing that it begins to have this hypnotic effect on the listener as we start to question the very relationship between Eurydice and Orpheus that we have grown to support. It can be very difficult to have a characters function symbolically without seeming contrived, but the Fates do an excellent job of being complex and frightening while also adapting to the emotion or gut feeling they are portraying at the time. 

People who would like this show are people who like hypnotizing Fates,large spaces with a lot of heart, and gods going hard on the dance floor. I am such a fan of the music in this show, and watching these amazingly talented actors bring that music and story to life is an absolutely transformative joy to watch.
Photos: T Charles Erickson

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Review of Paradise Square at the James M. Nederlander Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Paradise Square. The book was by Christina Anderson, Marcus Gardley, Craig Lucas, and Larry Kirwan. The music was by Jason Howland and the lyrics were by Nathan Tysen and Masi Asare. It was directed by Moisés Kaufman, choreographed by Bill T. Jones, and music directed by Jason Howland. It was about Paradise Square which was a neighborhood in New York City that was home to many discriminated-against groups during the Civil War era. The musical focuses on Nelly O’Brien (Joaquina Kalukango) as she tries to navigate running one of the most popular bars in the area, sheltering escaped enslaved people, and the draft riots and the effects of the civil war on her family. It is a riveting, reflective, and socially relevant celebration of home, diverse cultures, and the dance and music that help get us through hard times.

I loved how much dance is a part of this show. The combination of Juba and Irish dance styles blended with contemporary dance accented the period well and was a great celebration of the mixing of cultures. The dancing was beautiful but also parallels the social unrest in the period. Two of the main characters are Owen (A.J. Shively) and Washington Henry (Sidney DuPont) who are both new to Paradise square. Washington Henry has escaped slavery and Owen has escaped famine in Ireland and both of them share a passion for dance. I really enjoyed watching the process of them discovering each other’s dance styles and picking up techniques from one another. They start to perform together, but eventually they are forced to compete and find themselves battling over who deserves the prize money more. This competition powerfully symbolizes the catalyst for the draft riots, where the disadvantaged fought among themselves, prompted by the rich and powerful Anglo-American political leaders. I really enjoyed how the dance was connected to the overall themes of the show. Sometimes in a dance number in a musical, the plot ceases to move along. It is interesting to watch but it doesn’t make a point. But here they use dance as a plot device not as a “break.” 

 “Breathe Easy” begins with Angelina Baker (Gabrielle McClinton) singing to herself, waiting for her lover Washington Heny to come find her. I think McClinton’s performance was intimate and very moving. At first it felt like Angelina was unsure if she could get through this and be free with the person that she loved, but as more and more voices joined her, including the voice of Washington Henry, you saw her determination and confidence grow. As she is surrounded by those who came before her, encouraging her, it felt like the room had been transformed and everyone was focused on the storytelling that was happening onstage. The reason why “Breathe Easy” has so much impact is because even though Washington Henry and Angelina Baker have escaped slavery and found each other again, the play doesn’t neglect to reflect on and remember the people who were not able to escape or survive. Even though this musical focuses on the hope and relief that came for Washington and Angelina, it doesn’t forget the disgusting and tragic truths.

My favorite relationship in this show was the one between Nelly O’Brien and her sister-in-law Annie Lewis (Chilina Kennedy). They sang a song together called “Someone to Love,” which focused on how much Nelly had lost during the war and at the start of the riots. What made this song different from most other love songs in musicals is that it honed in on the loss of romantic love and the redirection of that love to family, work, and community. Since both Annie and Nelly lost the same person who was important to them in different ways, Annie tries to remind them both that they should be happy that they had someone to love and that they still have each other to love. It was my favorite song in the whole musical because it felt very genuine and it modeled a type of love that isn’t modeled that much in our culture. “

Let it Burn” was so beautifully performed by Kalukango. She brought so much raw emotion to this song that made her stepping out in front of the people of her community even more breathtaking. She punctuated moments with breath that meant just as much as the lyrics. The song also has so many levels. It was a ballad but drew from so many different types of song. It had initiative and drive to it, even though clearly Nelly is exhausted and has lost so much. In this song she is declaring that she doesn’t need the property or the physical neighborhood, all she needs is the people behind her. Her performance reminded me why I love theater so much--because of multilayered, intuitive, and thoughtful performances like hers. People who would like this show are people who like celebrating varieties of love, moving and relevant music, and dancing metaphors. I absolutely loved where this show is going and it reminded me of so many things I love about musical theater. I am so excited that I got to see it before it moves to Broadway.

Photos: Kevin Berne

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Review of Thirteen Days at City Lit

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Thirteen Days. It was by Robert F. Kennedy, adapted and directed by Brian Pastor. The play is centered on the Cuban Missile Crisis from the perspective of Robert Kennedy (Kat Evans) as he helped his brother John F. Kennedy (Cameron Feagin) and other major players in the U.S. government in the early 1960s. It is about determination, diplomacy, and family.

I really enjoyed the concept for this show: assigning the roles of male U.S. government officials to female-identifying actors. Having this dynamic is intriguing, however I was confused as to why they chose this script to make that choice. The relationships and context of the Cuban Missile Crisis do not seem to have been affected predominantly by gender. If it had been about women’s rights, like abortion rights or women’s suffrage, the concept could have been more effective. I feel as if it may have been more effective to change the gender presentation of one or all but one of the characters to amplify the significance of gender norms at the time. I feel like it could also have made a more relevant statement to have the cast play these characters as women instead of putting on male personas mimicking the original genders of the characters. The choice to have female-identifying actors didn’t feel like it changed the narrative of the Cuban Missile Crisis, so it felt somewhat arbitrary to me. 

I enjoyed the moments of humor within the show, especially in the scene at the UN. In this scene, Valerian Zorin (Maggie Cain), the Soviet Ambassador, had a translation earpiece that helped him understand the speech given by Adlai Stevenson (Anne Wrider). As Stevenson spoke, Zorin grew more agitated. But before he would speak there would be a dramatic and humorous pause while he waited for the end of the translation. This also made Stevenson’s quips get very delayed laughs from the delegates, the loudest and most mocking of course being from Zorin. I loved the gradual build in this scene. It was very well thought out, and the actors had great comedic timing.

I think this show has real educational value. It is much more entertaining than the textbook in which I learned about this event during my freshman year. It really amplified the significance of the relationships in the Cabinet, especially between the Kennedy brothers. This relationship is made more poignant by the last moment of the show which slyly references the fact that both of them will be assassinated in the near future. JFK mentions Lincoln’s facing a similar difficult crisis and going to the theater to celebrate, which brings a very clear connection to the audience's mind, since both presidents were assassinated.

People who would like this show are people who like new approaches to historical theater, eerie foreshadowing, and loud Russian laughs. I think this is a very interesting concept for a show that needs some fine tuning. There were some strong performances and dramatic plot points. It is a very engaging way to revisit this historic event.

Photos: Steve Graue

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Review of Kinky Boots at Paramount Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Kinky Boots. It was directed by Trent Stork, music directed by Kory Danielson, and choreographed by Isaiah Silvia-Chandley and Michael George. The book is by Harvey Fierstein based on the film written by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth. The music and lyrics are by Cyndi Lauper. Kinky Boots follows the intertwining stories of Charlie (Devin DeSantis), a man who has inherited a failing shoe business, and Lola (Michael Wordly) who is an awe-inspiring London drag performer with an infectious spirit (infectious in a good way). They end up starting a business together, as Charlie's last resort, making boots for drag queens, but they end up breaking free of the bonds societal norms put on them. It is about embracing femininity, finding your own path, and white men being let off the hook. I think this is a very well done and empowering show full of stunning queens and vocal acrobatics.

Every scene with Lola was completely breathtaking. Michael Wordly’s performance of this role gave just the right amount of sensitivity, sultriness, and swagger. When you go to see a production of Kinky Boots, of course you are going to look forward to seeing Lola and the performer’s take on the iconic role. What Wordly did very well that I haven’t seen before is that, during the first part of the show, even though Lola is the embodiment of confidence in her performances, there are glimpses of that uncertainty about herself that makes Lola such a complex and lovable character. In “Land of Lola,” the energy in the room was palpable. The audience was in awe of the performance. I also loved the individual presence and personality of each of the Angels (Terrell Armstrong, Anthony Avino, Matthew Bettencourt, Christopher John Kelley, Anthony Sullivan Jr., and J. Tyler Whitmer) Lola’s backup group. Each Angel had their own drag style, and I felt like I got to know each one, No one blended into the background. When she is away from her Angels, Lola’s vulnerability is clearer. It is most evident in “Not My Father’s Son,” which takes place when Lola has come to the factory for the first time out of drag. Even as Simon, Lola still wears her nail polish, but that is not enough of a barrier against the harsh words of some of the less open-minded workers, like Don (Mark Lancaster). This song reached into my heart and pulled it out. Every word that Simon uttered was genuine and emotional. When is in drag as Lola, Wordly likes to punctuate his points with high notes, but in this song everything is more soft and gradual. Almost every note drew out and showed a journey from fear to resentment to resolution.

I love many of the messages in this show, like being true to who you are and opening your mind to others. However, I feel like the level of forgiveness that Lola shows Charlie is slightly concerning due to the hail of offensive insults that Charlie throws upon her just days before the fashion show they have been planning. If Charlie hadn’t gone on for so long pelting Lola with abusive language, I would understand a bit more why Lola chose to forgive him. Because Lola does eventually help Charlie out and forgive him, Kinky Boots is added to the already lengthy list of shows that promote the narrative of white men being forgiven by underrepresented groups. Charlie joins a long line of white male characters who are invincible to taking responsibility for their actions and who avoid consequences they deserve. If Charlie had done any grand gesture, like the more straightforwardly prejudiced Don did, to show that he had changed as a person and was trying to improve, the narrative would have provided a better example of how to change and make amends for your ingrained biases. But, because Charlie is the main character, all he seems to need to do is apologize when really that isn’t enough. Don helps put together a group of people to stay overtime and help make Lola’s vision a reality. Don did something to show that he was changing, which at least shows the path to change instead of the path to immediate forgiveness and gratification. I in no way want to say I didn’t enjoy Devin DeSantis’ performance as Charlie. The flaw is in the script. Charlie has a song called “Soul of a Man” that DeSantis absolutely crushed. His vocal performance paired with his raw emotion made for the perfect power ballad. Lauren (Sarah Reinecke), like Lola, seems perhaps too quick to forgive Charlie so the play can wrap itself up and get to a happy ending. It’s not that I don’t want a happy ending, but I would like it to come as a result of a real, trackable change in Charlie. Reinecke did an absolutely masterful job with this role. She found the perfect balance between the comedy that her character’s song, “The History of Wrong Guys,” contains and relatable and believable moments of self-realization. I think the performers seemed like they would have been able to do even more nuanced work around the issue of transformation and forgiveness if the script had given them space for that.

The ensemble for this show was absolutely amazing. They had an overarching sense of community that carried from scene to scene and character to character. The workers in the factory are all supposed to be like family and each person in the ensemble gave the factory scenes a palpable sense of community and love. Each ensemble member also had a very distinct and lovable personality. Even when characters had flaws, it was hard not to feel love for the character just like the friends of the character did. This effect on me was especially evident in the relationship between Trish (Christina Hall) and Don. They clearly love each other and see the good in each other. Pat’s (Dana Tretta) character was also fully realized and very open-minded from the start. She had a fun-loving personality that made every scene she was in enjoyable. I know that I have seen an amazing and well-cast ensemble when everyone clearly knows who they are on a deep level and brings something to any scene they are in, no matter how large their role in it.

People who would like this show are people who like stellar ensembles, complex drag queens, and shoe-motivated changes in perspective. This is an amazing production to see as your welcome back to in-person theater. I missed the community of theatermakers and theater lovers and the joy that fills the room when they get together. I’m so glad to be back.

Kinky Boots runs through October 17, 2021 at Paramount Theatre

Photos: Liz Lauren

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Review of The Mousetrap at Court Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Mousetrap. It was by Agatha Christie and it was directed by Sean Graney. It was about a group of people who all come to stay at a bed and breakfast in an old manor run by Mollie (Kate Fry) and her husband Giles (Allen Gilmore). Things turn for the worse when a murder investigation begins and the murderer is understood to be in the house. The only thing is, no one knows who it is...except for the murderer. It is about mistrust, fear, and social expectations. I think that this is an amazingly done, farcical mystery. It is very well performed and is absolutely hilarious, but it also has its moments of dread and heart.

I really loved the feeling of this show. Usually I like shows that feel natural and true to life, but I feel like this production had a compelling mix of a heightened situation with grounded relationships and emotion. This balance made me love the characters, but at the same time let the show be funny and over-the-top. I loved how all of the characters were so confrontational and big; everyone was trying to be the center of attention all the time. This also shows the high stakes for the characters: everyone wants something and they will do just about anything to get what they want. There was a guest named Christopher Wren (Alex Goodrich) who had grown to be one of Mollie's favorites because they share an interest in analyzing people. He has an immediate dislike for Mrs. Boyle (Carolyn Ann Hoerdemann) and every time he walks into the room, he has some comment for her. She is another exaggerated character; she is very judgmental about the amenities of the manor and continuously is talking about how much better other hotels are. Mollie and Christopher seem to have a real relationship where they care about each other, despite the fact that he is such an over-the-top person. They bond over their mutual dislike for Mrs. Boyle, and actually grow to have a friendship that feels real and grounded. In a show that is farcical like this one, especially when there are life-or-death situations, I feel it is important to have characters that have relationships that the audience cares about.

Most characters in this play could be considered "odd" in the 1950s. It is as if, following the war, everyone is becoming less filtered. Mrs. Boyle is very headstrong and opinionated and does not submit to authority cheerfully. Mr. Paravicini (David Cerda) is very extravagant and exuberantly bares his knees to the cold and the world. Miss Casewell (Tina Muñoz Pandya) is very comfortable in her surroundings, not trying to be prim or proper. She wears traditionally masculine clothes and is confident in her opinions. Christopher Wren is flirtatious and unabashedly himself, not worried about seeming masculine. There is also a group of characters who seem to be more "normal" than everyone else. Major Metcalf (Lyonel Reneau) is a remnant of the war and still carries himself as he did in the military and is purposeful in everything he does. Giles and Mollie seem to be a lovely, traditional married couple. She seems at first like a traditional housewife, cooking and cleaning, and he does the chores of a handyman. Detective Sergeant Trotter is very focused on finding out who the murderer is and is very professional. But none of these people are as normal as they appear at first. The "odd" characters seem to represent society's anxieties about breaking gender norms and encouraging freedom of expression. But the "normal" characters show that outwardly meeting society's expectations does not mean that things will return to the conservative ideas of the "good old days."

The comedy in this show was so dark and perfectly timed. I also loved how oblivious everyone was, it added to the hilarity when a character was missing something obvious or not realizing how ridiculous the situation was. At the beginning of the show, Giles comes home and his wife picks up his coat, scarf, and hat at the exact moments the voice on the radio is describing the garments of the murderer and they match exactly. Her timing was so amazing which is what made it hilarious. The universal suspiciousness of everyone's behavior was also very funny. Mr. Paravicini was not very helpful when it came to the fears of the other guests about their possible impending murders. He was going around the premises singing and playing three blind mice, which is the song that the murderer has chosen as their theme. During the interrogation, every character is doing something suspicious, but synchronous with everyone else being suspicious, so no one notices. The characters all also frantically and nervously unwrap candies, very noisily, until the detective has to take the candies away. I thought this was very funny because it was a callback to the announcement theaters usually make at the beginning of the show about not unwrapping candies during the show. Here, unwrapping candies is one of the most suspicious things the characters do in the show.

People who would like this show are people who like comedy paired with murder, unfiltered post-war weirdos, and suspicious candy wrappers. I think this is an absolutely hilarious and delightfully twisting show. I loved it.

Photos: Michael Brosilow

Review of Rivendell Theatre Ensemble's The Tasters

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Tasters. It was by Meghan Brown, and it was directed by Devon de Mayo. It was about a group of women--Bianca (usually Paula Ramirez, Isabel Rivera when I saw it), Corrine (Daniella Pereira), and Elyse (Shariba Rivers) who were enlisted to taste all the food that was going to be later served to great leaders of the world. They are all put into this room together that they are not allowed to leave without supervision. The General (Eric Slater) is in charge of making sure that everything is in order and that the leaders will be safe. Lt. Sawyer (Collin Quinn Rice) is the person who feeds the women, and he tries to help them within the restrictions imposed by his bosses. Corrine is very bubbly and tries to please all of the higher-ups, but things get dire when Elyse, who is a leader of the revolution, shows up as a prisoner. It is about sacrifice, submission, and institutionalized discrimination. I really liked the story, the performances, and the immersive world.

The relationship between The General and Bianca was disconcerting. I feel like this relationship reflects troubling dynamics within society, specifically in the workplace. The General wanted Bianca to feel safe within the relationship, but because of the power dynamic (he is a person who can influence if she is going to live until the next day or not), she cannot really feel safe. In the first scene where we see them interact outside of the cell I noticed how normal The General was trying to make the meeting even though this situation was the least normal it could be. As the meeting continued and got more sexual, Bianca started to feel uncomfortable and once it had gone too far for her, she spoke up. The general tried to say it was okay and work around it so he could still get what he wanted, but she kept shutting him down until he started interrogating and yelling at her. Finally, she gave in out of fear. I thought that this scene exemplified exactly everything that was wrong with the relationship. Because he holds so much power and loves to use it, he brought the dynamic into the relationship to feel powerful. But because Bianca also knows how much safer she is, she doesn't want to lose that, so she does what he wants even if it isn't best for her. The general doesn't know how smart Bianca is and how she knows when she is being manipulated and can use that to her advantage. I also really liked having Lt. Sawyer as a character because he seemed so vulnerable and caring, but as the show progresses he starts to become more violent and unfriendly because he has to follow orders in order to climb the power ladder to safety. Having both of these characters in the story showed the "before and after" of how power changes people in a society run by hungry men.

The friendship that the three women almost accidentally strike up is very intriguing and bittersweet. They are all vastly different people. Elyse is a strong revolutionary, Corrine is a follower of the leaders, and Bianca is a person who knows when to take advantage of a moment and when to submit. When they first meet they all have a reason not to like each other, but as they all start to get tired of the bad treatment and the fear they realize that they have to stick together in order to make a point and help the rest of the world survive. I love the character of Elyse for so many reasons: she is strong, powerful, smart, and so interesting to watch. I really loved the scene between Bianca and Elyse because I feel like it shows a side of Elyse we don't see anywhere else. We get to see Bianca be vulnerable throughout the show because we get to hear her thoughts when she is speaking to her baby bump, but in Bianca and Elyse's scene together we get to see Elyse caring about a person outside her own family for the first time. We know about her kids and we see how much they meant to her which makes this conversation about being a "good mom" even more heart-wrenching. Elyse sees how impossible Bianca's situation is, and she affirms her and helps her to see that she can be as brave as Elyse is. I think that this is what makes a truly fascinating character; when you have someone who has had so much loss and is so powerful in such a profound way like Elyse is, it is very emotional to see her come out from behind the wall that has been keeping her emotions and fear from coming out in order to help someone. It is moving to see her let herself not be stern but to witness her lending what her pain has taught her to others.

People who would like this show are people who like strong female revolutionaries, projecting societal issues into a new storyline, and utopian mom talks. I think that this is a gorgeously written, directed, and performed show. It tells such a profound story in such a heartfelt and real way.

Photos: Michael Brosilow

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Review of About Face Theatre's The Gulf

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Gulf. It was written by Audrey Cefaly, and it was directed by Megan Carney. It was about Kendra (Kelli Simpkins) and Betty (Deanna Myers), a couple who had gone on a fishing trip together during a difficult part of their relationship. Some unforeseen circumstances arise and the couple starts bringing up old betrayals and arguments. It is about love, trust, and the difference between loving someone and being good for them. I think this is a very beautiful show, performed masterfully.

I thought that the dynamic between the two lovers was very interesting but heartbreaking to watch. They very clearly had a lot of love and attraction towards each other, but they didn't know how to express that in a way that wasn't fueled by passion, not just in the romantic sense but in the sense of anger. They had such tension between them at all times that it was hard to tell at first what it was motivated by. As the play went on you get to see the couple in many different testing situations and really get an understanding of what their go-to diffusing strategy is for the other person. I realized that they are both people who know how to get what they want and are very determined to get it, which causes a lot of quickly heated arguments. This was the main thing that showed me why this relationship was so dysfunctional. Both of these people went all-in with each other and are both forces to be reckoned with, which causes them to do things that completely ignore the other person's wellbeing. When there are two people in a relationship who think that they deserve everything the way they want it, it causes no one to get what they want. In the end this leaves unresolved arguments that seem to never die. I think this is why this boat trip seems to be such an uncontrolled disaster at times; it's because deep down they love each other and rely on each other, but that boat can't hold the weight of their egos which causes every unresolved argument to rise to the surface.

These women love each other very much and this is immensely clear through each of the actor's performances. Their performances also showed all the layers to the relationship that clouded the love. Both of these things were enhanced by the intimacy (directed by Gaby Labotka), which seemed very real and vulnerable in very specific ways. I think that something that this play and these actors attack really effectively is loving someone vs being good for someone. I think that one of the reasons that this play keeps this question lingering in the air for so long is because it leaves the biggest question unanswered and lets other immediately pressing matters guide the characters and the audience away from the thing the couple has been avoiding for years. When the playwright puts the audience in a similar-feeling place as the characters it lets the viewer understand how scary a question that is and how many things an answer could change. I think that what scares the couple the most is not having that constant (their relationship) in their life and if they are unhappy they find ways to make sure they can have their constant and also get what they aren't getting from their partner.

I think that the setting of the boat is a big reason for why this all comes out on this trip. While they are feeling literally trapped, they are coming to terms with being figuratively trapped. This idea of being trapped and scared of what being trapped means is enhanced by the set. The set by Joe Schermoly is very immersive and again puts the audience in the world and feeling of the characters. The set itself is very beautiful, but it is made out of broken things, which I think symbolises the relationship very well. By the end of the play, as the couple is reflecting on the things that made their relationship beautiful and what made them fall for each other, the set starts to have a glow about it (lighting design by Rachel Levy). This made these moments even more moving because I felt like that glow was not literal to their surroundings but was more about Betty and Kendra rediscovering that glow. I don't think that them finding the things they love about each other is going to "save" the relationship, but I think it is a beautiful moment of change that is left unspecified for a reason, and the set just amplifies how beautiful and sad broken things can be.

People who would like this show are people who like immersion, boats bringing out the best and worst in people, and beautiful broken things. I thought that this was an absolutely gorgeous show. The technical elements and emotion were spot on. It had very complex characters that exemplified how people show love in many different ways. I loved it.

Photos: Michael Brosilow