This is a big play about lots of big ideas – lots of big ideas. Having had a taste of Matthew Cole Kelly’s talent I would say that I look forward to seeing this play developed further – and pared down some. Or made into a trilogy.
“This is a fascinating play that buckles you in for a kaleidoscopic whirl of a wild ride down a bunch of rabbit holes—and the mixed metaphors fit perfectly.”
The language is exquisite, the stories intriguing, and the topics very timely. However, there is so much going on you sort of need a scorecard to keep track. But it certainly wasn’t dull and the pacing was good.
Briefly, a 21-year-old undergraduate student at one of the Ivy League schools is working as a paralegal and makes a harassment claim against one of the senior attorneys—not a partner, but one on a partner track (although 15 years seems like a long time to be on a partner track). The fall-out from that claim will expose all the cracks among all the players, and allegiances can shift with dizzying speed. The players includes Tyler Hermann, the alleged harasser; his wife, Felicity; their teenager, Triple X; Halifax Casper, the aging partner winding down his career; Trinity Casper, his very surprising wife; and Celeste Wright, the paralegal claiming harassment.
All the actors were stand-outs in this first reading of the play via ZOOM. But Noga Yechieli Wind – the gender-fluid, 16-year-old offspring (Triple X) of the alleged harasser, Tyler and his wife Felicity – was incandescent. They sank into the part so effortlessly that you ached for, and cheered on, such an incredibly bright, talented person growing up and coming to terms with the intricacies of the world without any help from parents. They would have been a challenging child and one that did not fit into the stylized family image of a white-shoe attorney – an image of probity that is little changed from Victorian days.
In fact, the women were all intriguing. Felicity (Gwen Grastorf) had a remarkable journey as she broke free of the constraints of a completely stultifying life to regain her soul. And Rosemary Regan as the partner’s wife, Celeste, brought a remarkably wanton beauty, earthiness, and intelligence to the part of a nearly 80-year-old woman who kind of swoops in and saves the day.
As Halifax, Aidan Hughes is too young to play the part, but he had the upper crust mediocrity of morals down pat. Matt Paul plays the attorney accused of harassment with aplomb – both bombastic and befuddled. He also has a story arc that begs for more fleshing out. For Halifax, his moment of humanity came too late to care about, and for Taylor, his moment was close to that also.
Oddly enough, the least interesting character was Octavia Chavez Richmond’s Celeste. Her characters was the least fleshed out and, once she had set the story in motion, was sort of abandoned. In her scenes with Triple X, however, one saw the glimmerings of yet another story begging to be told – of attraction, class, economic and racial warfare, and the unexpected allies one makes and uses.
This play has so much to unpack—mythology, the patriarchy, gender, economics, race, conservative vs. liberal, social classes, who gets to control one’s story, and more. It almost seemed like there were three plays trying to be told, and not enough room to fully develop any one of them.
It was also very funny at times. Again, the women had the most amusing and clever lines, and landed them deftly.
This is a fascinating play that buckles you in for a kaleidoscopic whirl of a wild ride down a bunch of rabbit holes – and the mixed metaphors fit perfectly. As one production or broken up into discrete plays delving into the characters, this will be must-see theatre.
Running Time: About two hours and 10 minutes with no intermission.
Advisory: Language, drug use, language about sexual violence, adult topics.
“New Works in Action” has been moved to the YouTube account for Spooky Action Theater. ‘We Victorians’ was the second new work on Sunday, May 31, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. Next up is ‘Transferal’ on Sunday, June 7 at 3:00 p.m., and finally, ‘Circular’ on Sunday, June 14, at 3:00 p.m. For more information, click here.