Fiona is a local writer, dramaturg, and actor

Beneatha is a local director, playwright and arts administrator.

Nan is an actor, maker, & Philly girl. She is a white-passing intersectional feminist.

In Our Pockets

 Fiona

The weather was atrocious that day, so I came to the show drenched, a little cranky, and a lot sleep deprived. But I LOVE Lorca’s essay “Theory and Play of the Duende,” so I was ready to see its influences. Campbell O’Hare, Lindsay Smiling, and Assistant Director Elise D’Avella are artists that I have worked with in the past and greatly admire.

 

Beneatha

So drenched in rain! But made it on time. I’m familiar with many of the the ensemble in some shape or fashion. Some casually, some from working with Young Playwrights and others from our Alma Mater The University of the Arts.

 

Nan

I know a few people in this production and have been seeing Wilma shows on and off since 2009.

 

The Take-Away 

  • Percussive dancing and dissonant music gave LIFE 

  • Lorca’s language is dense and difficult to unpack, but the movement helped to dissolve the mystery surrounding it.

  • Strangely female-centric production, even though the text was heavily patriarchal.

  • The specificity of ALL movement was breathtaking

The Design

Fional

Thom Weaver’s lighting hit that sweet spot of present and guiding/reinforcing the storytelling without being overpowering. Reds were used economically, which enhanced their effectiveness when they were incorporated in the narrative. The lights helped clue me in when danger was ramping up.

Nan

The live music was lovely and not overdone, but when in the second half there was finally a transition from the woodsmen’s live upright bass to prerecorded music I was a bit taken out of the action. I wished they had stuck to live music, I got really spoiled!

Fiona

The recording didn’t bother me as much, but I think that’s because there were so many stimuli (lights, movement, costumes) that I didn’t notice the shift when it happened. Plus, the live music was so eerie and brash (in a good way!) that it stuck with me throughout. Major kudos to composer, Csaba Ökrös!

The costumes were a bit of a mixed bag for me. I was so taken with Campbell O’Hare’s costumes throughout the piece (all varying shades of red), and her wedding dress in particular was stunning yet simple (and those HEELS). The suit that Jered Mclenigan wore as the Groom, on the other hand, looked like something out of a bad production of “Guys and Dolls”; perhaps intentional, but it was just tacky in comparison to the other, more understated costumes. However, Mclenigan’s was the outlier for me. Overall, Oana Botez’s costuming were effective and helped to establish a sense of time and mood.

Beneatha

The Reds utilized were stunning, as was Jalene Clark’s plum from head to toe. I was a little distracted at Brett’s seemingly ill-fitting blue ensemble when they were the Old Lady.

Nan

It’s not an easy show to costume, with that much movement but not grounded in a specific time period or aesthetic. Some were super successful (the bride, especially) but Taysha in a corset and fluffy skirt with heels straight up felt like it was in the wrong show. I did love the fur coat and silver silk dress on Brett as Death, and the silver suit for the Moon.

Fiona

I wasn’t taken with the aesthetic of Thom Weaver’s set of pull away-able rubber mats that covered the stage, though the initial effect of revealing the bursts of color underneath was effective. That being said, having the set be so interactive gave another layer to the movement. Watching the actors negotiate with having to pull away strips and then moving around the wreckage was intriguing.

The Direction  

Fiona

More director/choreographer combos please! Though some of the more “conventional” (more park and bark/less dance-y) scenes were less dynamic, the incorporated movement made up for it. This piece was really a feast for eyes/ears, so I commend Csaba Horváth’s approach.

 

The Performances

Fiona

Amazing ensemble. Nearly two hours straight of ATHLETIC movement is not easy to pull off, and those actors did the damn thing. I was continually struck by the sheer range of skill, from Sarah Gliko’s  musical talents to Jaylene Clark Owens’s fierceness and honesty while playing an older woman. The pairing of Campbell and Lindsay ended up being a bit of a let down for me though. The two of them are strong individually, but I wasn’t convinced that they had a consuming passion for each other. It didn’t seem like the right fit.

Accountability

Fiona

This play is so heteronormative, it’s REALLY tough to work around that to bring a diversity of experience. Female presenting people played women, male presenting people played men. Pretty conventional choices in that regard.

While I’m a bit obsessed with Lorca and pretty much drooled over the movement in this production, I still found myself wondering how to answer the question “why this play now?” The play grapples with ideas like the dangers of consuming passion, a woman struggling in a male-dominated world, and violence, etc., and the Wilma’s production certainly highlighted all of that. But I still wished it went further and gave me more than just a heady, intellectual gaze at questions that have been out there for a long ass time. The movement was a step in the right direction, but maybe I wanted something a little less beautiful? Maybe.

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