“Joy” is complicated. It’s not just a sudden childlike leap of glee with a whoopee. At least not all the time. In the hands of Synetic Theater’s cast and director, these two iterations of “Joy,” playing in repertory, will leave you remembering the joys you have known.
‘Joy’ will bring you joy. It is that simple. It is a beautiful gift by a theater known for big passions and thrilling movement that requires body and soul to tell its stories.
They will also have you appreciating Synetic for taking us on these two, one-hour journeys into two people’s decidedly different takes on joy. Everybody’s joy journey is different. Joy shouldn’t be a competition.
The first journey of “Joy” is written and performed by Maria Simplins, and directed by Katherine DuBois. It is the story of her journey through childhood to find her two passions — dance and acting. Simpkins give a tender, vibrant performance full of the unselfconsciousness of a spirit jumping in and experiencing doing. She ably shows the dispiritedness when outside judgment based on societal expectations rears up, and then we find ourselves rooting for her as she reclaims her voice, her being, and her passion. She’s also very good with the quick aside as well as physical comedy that is eminently relatable.
The second incarnation of “‘Joy” is also about a journey, but a physical and emotional one. Paata Tsikurishvili directs his son, Vato, in the telling of his own story, which, to an extent, is also the story of his parents. The level of trust necessary for such an intimate unfurling of one’s self, particularly given the relationship, is breathtaking. And it works, for the most part. It almost seemed a couple of times as if Vato touched on a feeling and veered off. But it was a fascinating work created by the younger Tsikurishvili and he painted a vivid picture in words and body of growing up in Georgia, coming to America, living in Ohio, and then back to the D.C. area with the rest of his immediate family.
One of the lessons from this repertory is that joy is earned, in a sense, at least after childhood. After childhood, when we’ve discovered that the world can be impatient, unkind, mocking, and jolting, it takes a special courage to find the joy. It takes a special courage to accept it for as long as it stays.
These two shows are beautifully staged. Each actor has his/her moment and a judicious use of backgrounds, simple props, video, and special effects creates an atmosphere that is intimate and intense. Patrons seeing the shows will receive a package from Synetic that contains small items that physically represent the joy Simpkins and Tsikurishvili have created as lodestones in their lives. It is a well-thought-out touch and adds to the intimacy of these shows.
“Joy” will bring you joy. It is that simple. It is a beautiful gift by a theater known for big passions and thrilling movement that requires body and soul to tell its stories.
Running Time: Each one-person play is approximately one hour long straight through.
Show Advisory: Maria Simpkins’ Joy has some loud noises, strong language, and described moments of trauma. VatoTsikurishvili’s Joy has loud noises, gunshot sound effects, and strobe light.
“Joy” runs through November 8, 2020, presented virtually by Synetic Theater. For more information, please click here.