Location, location, location. This realtor’s mantra is not just for house-hunters – it’s at least as significant for theater companies, for whom space is often a critical factor in defining an individual production, even a company style.
For decades, InterAct, under Seth Rozin’s leadership, has been devoted to cutting edge, politically-steeped theater that sometimes seemed at odds with its rather boxy, conventional home at the Adrienne. Rozin and company always made the best of it – but now, thanks in large part to his influence, InterAct – and four more theater companies – have a new venue, tailored to their specifications. So it was especially intriguing to see how Rozin would launch his first project at the Drake – #therevolution, a world premiere play by Kristoffer Diaz.
To be sure, there are peaks and valleys in Diaz’s wildly ambitious script, about nothing less than the potentially incendiary results of a social media-driven revolution that seeks a utopian ideal. (As one character succinctly explains it, “It’s not easy to go leader-less – you need someone to lead you there.”)
But the clear winner here is Rozin’s production – a theatrical triumph. Pretty much every element works, but let’s start with the performances of Mary Tuomanen and Brett Ashley Robinson as the two women centrally responsible for the revolution. Tuomanen is elfin and elusive; Robinson is vibrantly present. Individually, they’re dazzling – together, they’re even better. Watch how effortlessly they delineate their cranked-up public personas from their far more subdued private selves – superb! There’s also a terrific supporting turn by the fierce, compelling Anita Holland, and a charming one by Stephanie N. Walters. (And how nice to find a new play with four really meaty female roles.)
Design and direction are on the same high level – kudos to Colin McIlvaine (scenery) and Peter Whinnery (lights) – and a special nod to Jorge Cousineau’s terrifically Tarantino-esque projections.
#therevolution starts funny and grows gradually darker. Along the way, Diaz touches on many areas, including the seductive nature of mass adoration, and the shifting dynamics of power. As the play gets bigger, the energy disperses – it’s not Diaz’s fault that he can’t solve these problems (nobody can) – but he hasn’t entirely figured out how to fit them all into a play. Still, #therevolution scores points for boldness, even when the results don’t quite add up.
Back for a moment to the Drake – an elegant, comfortable, absolutely terrific new space that I think will be transformative. #therevolution is a spirit-lifting opening celebration – a fine achievement on its own, as well as a promise of great things to come.
#therevolution runs through February 14. For more information, visit InterAct Theatre’s website.
Categories: Criticism, Theater, TICKET/PHILADELPHIA MAGAZINE
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