REVIEW: Hilberry gives us polished ‘Marat/Sade’

Reviewed by Robert Delaney, The New Monitor

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The Lunatics have arrived. Left to Right - Back row: Ty Mithcell, David Sterritt, Vanessa Sawson Middle row: Rahbi Hammond, Megan Dobbertin, Brandon Grantz Front row: Alec Barbour, Danielle Cochrane, Maggie Beson, Edmund Alyn Jones, Sarah Hawkins Moan Credit: Kevin Replinger

The Lunatics have are waiting for you.
Left to Right – Back row: Ty Mithcell, David Sterritt, Vanessa Sawson
Middle row: Rahbi Hammond, Megan Dobbertin, Brandon Grantz
Front row: Alec Barbour, Danielle Cochrane, Maggie Beson, Edmund Alyn Jones, Sarah Hawkins Moan
Credit: Kevin Replinger

The death of one of the men responsible for the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution is the subject of a play-within-a-play performed by inmates of an insane asylum, in Peter Weiss’ “Marat/Sade,” the latest production of the current season at Wayne State’s Hilberry Theatre. Weiss pretends the play being acted out by the inmates has been written by the infamous marquis who gave his name to sadism, and the long version of the play’s title is “The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis De Sade” — perhaps the longest title ever given to a play.

Set in 1808, after the French Revolution has been supplanted by the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte, the inmates act out a play by their fellow inmate, the Marquis de Sade, who did indeed write plays for his fellow inmates to perform.

This play tells the story of the 1793 assassination of Marat, who was a supporter of Robespierre’s draconian campaign of executing anyone perceived as an enemy of the
revolution.

Weiss drew on the theatrical theories of Bertolt Brecht in his crafting of 1963 play, and although written a few years before the full fl owering of farleft political action that was to mark the later ‘60s, this avant garde work presents the vicious Marat in a sympathetic light (pretty much saying, even if he was a bit mad, later events proved him right).

It’s not a play to my taste, but I nevertheless found this Hilberry production — directed (and choreographed) by Matthew Earnest — quite impressive. Outstanding performances are given by Edmund Alyn Jones as Marat, Vanessa Sawson as Charlotte Corday (his assassin), Joe Plambeck as de Sade and Topher Payne as the Herald.

I had thought Jones would pretty well just be coasting to the end of his third year at the Hilberry after his stellar performance as Othello, yet here he is giving
another truly memorable performance.

And Sawson’s Corday (or more precisely, her inmate pressed into service to play Corday) may well be the best thing she has done in her Hilberry career. But  absolutely every member of the cast is very good, and this is a thoroughly well done production in every aspect.

Also of the highest quality are the scenic design by Pegi Marshall-Amundsen and the costumes by Mary Leyendecker.

“Marat/Sade” continues through May 11 at the Hilberry Theatre, at Cass and West Hancock on the WSU campus in Detroit’s Midtown area. For performance and ticket information, call the WSU Theatre box offi ce (313) 577-2972 or go to http://www.wsushows.com.

REVIEW: ‘Marat/Sade’ crowns the Hilberry Theatre’s 50th season

Reviewed by Patty Nolan, The Examiner

Read the review on the Examiner Website.

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The Lunatics have arrived. Left to Right - Back row: Ty Mithcell, David Sterritt, Vanessa Sawson Middle row: Rahbi Hammond, Megan Dobbertin, Brandon Grantz Front row: Alec Barbour, Danielle Cochrane, Maggie Beson, Edmund Alyn Jones, Sarah Hawkins Moan Credit: Kevin Replinger

The Lunatics have arrived.
Left to Right – Back row: Ty Mitchell, David Sterritt, Vanessa Sawson
Middle row: Rahbi Hammond, Megan Dobbertin, Brandon Grantz
Front row: Alec Barbour, Danielle Cochrane, Maggie Beson, Edmund Alyn Jones, Sarah Hawkins Moan
Credit: Kevin Replinger

In its final production of the milestone 50th season, the Hilberry Theatre is currently staging the extraordinary Tony Award-winning play, “Marat/Sade (The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade)” by Peter Weiss. Although this show is decidedly NOT a musical, it deploys dance and a fetching score by Richard Peaslee to more fully explore Weiss’s complex themes of revolution and individual nonconformity, mob hysteria and personal demons.

This brilliantly performed production of Marat/Sade is directed and choreographed by Matthew Earnest, who returns to the Hilberry after directing last season’s innovative “Much Ado About Nothing.”

Marat/Sade famously recreates events that occurred late in the French Revolution, in which Jean-Paul Marat (played by the commanding Edmund Alyn Jones), a champion of the poor and proponent of the guillotine solution, is murdered in his bathtub by Charlotte Corday (the versatile Vanessa Sawson) a country girl disillusioned by the unending bloodshed. But this is much more than a mere history lesson. Weiss chose to set this story as a play within a play, performed – as the formal title suggests – by the inmates of an asylum under the direction of theMarquis de Sade (Joe Plambeck, in his most challenging role yet). As a point of historical fact, Sade – yes, the libertine who gave us the term “sadist” – was interred at Charenton following the revolution, and was allowed to direct dramatizations with the inmates under the authority of the benign Dr. Coulmier.

Written by Weiss in the 1960s, the play serves as a commentary on the nature of revolution and the meaning of freedom in a world that suppresses individuality in the name of ‘the people.’ In the play, the aloof Marquis de Sade and the fanatical Marat debate their opposing views on power, politics and insurrection.

In the play, Sade sums up his feelings by remarking, ““To me, the only reality is imagination; the world inside myself. The revolution no longer interests me.”

And the naughty Marquis’ vision is all brought to life by inmates whose maladies range from narcolepsy to nymphomania.

“I don’t think Marat/Sade deals extensively with the French Revolution,” Earnest explains. “I believe that Peter Weiss is reframing events and people from the time of the French Revolution to discuss his own time – the Cold War and the brutal, oppressive era of the Berlin Wall … I think we still struggle with individual liberties and the common good. People really are in control of their own destinies, and that’s what this play is about. It’s not a history lesson on the French Revolution any more than Macbeth is a history lesson on Scottish politics.”

This compelling production commands, deserves and rewards the audience’s full attention. The entire Hilberry company is to be congratulated on a powerful show that effortlessly pulls the viewer into its undertow of political anarchy and polarized political thought.

The cast includes: Alec Barbour (Kokol), Maggie Beson (Inmate), Miles Boucher (Holy Sister), Christopher Call (Holy Sister), Danielle Cochrane (Rossignol), Mackenzie Conn (Inmate), Megan Dobbertin (Simonne Evrard), Nancy Florkowski (Inmate), Brandon Grantz (Dupperet), Brent Griffith (Male Nurse), Rahbi Hammond (Inmate), Edmund Alyn Jones (Marat), Annie Keris (Cocurucu), Joshua Miller (Polpoch), Ty Mitchell (Inmate), Sarah Hawkins Moan (Inmate), Chelsea Ortuno (Inmate), Topher Payne (Herald), Joe Plambeck (Sade), Joshua Blake Rippy (Coulmier), Vanessa Sawson (Corday), and David Sterritt (Roux).

The production team includes: Matthew Earnest (Director), Veronica Zahn (Stage Manager), Courtney Rasor (Assistant Stage Manager), Christopher Hall (Music Composer), Pegi Marshall-Amundsen (Scenic Designer), Samuel G. Byers (Lighting Designer), Mary Leyendecker (Costume Designer), Heather DeFauw (Sound Designer), Kimbra Essex (Property Master), Michael Wilkki (Technical Director), and Patrick Pozezinski (Publicity Design).

“Marat/Sade” runs at the Hilberry Theatre through May 11, 2013, with 8 p.m. performances on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. performances on April 24, May 4, and May 11. See the website for the performance calendar. Tickets range from $12–$30 and are available by calling the Hilberry Theatre Box Office at (313) 577-2972, online at, or by visiting the box office at 4743 Cass Avenue on the corner of Hancock.

REVIEW: Marat/Sade – ‘The Hilberry doing what it does best – educate’

Reviewed by John Quinn, Encore Michigan

Read the review on the Encore Michigan website.

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Simonne Evrard (Megan Dobbertin), Jean-Paul Marat (Edmund Alyn Jones) Credit: Kevin Replinger

Simonne Evrard (Megan Dobbertin), Jean-Paul Marat (Edmund Alyn Jones)
Credit: Kevin Replinger

The Hilberry Theatre closes its 50th season with an extraordinary challenge. “The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade,” better known, I am grateful, simply as “Marat/Sade,” is still avante garde even at age 50. It’s more pageant than play: cruel, unrelenting and hard to like. It is also, thanks to its director, guest-artist Matthew Earnest, a compelling, visceral work, satisfying for its sheer theatricality. Earnest has gotten everything right by simply honoring the playwright’s intent.

That playwright was Peter Weiss, born a Czech but a naturalized Swede. His work was heavily influenced by German playwright and director Bertolt Brecht and Antonin Artaud, the French director who espoused the Theatre of Cruelty – as explored in “Marat/Sade,” meaning a violent determination to shatter false reality. Weiss has created a timeless work; he crafts a framework of societal dysfunction during the Napoleonic Empire, using techniques developed amidst the dysfunction of the Weimar Republic. His purpose was to explore the dysfunction of the Cold War, but his theme was eerily echoed this week in the streets of Boston. In a nut shell, “Marat/Sade” asks, “What needs to be altered in order to promote change? Is it society, or is it the individual?”

Weiss delved into history and chose as his debaters Jean-Paul Marat, firebrand journalist of the French Revolution, and the Marquis de Sade, whose sexual predilections gave us the term, “sadism.” While the characters were contemporaries, they had no historical conversation. “Marat/Sade” by intention is an unsettling work, and it all begins with the structure. The setting is Charenton Asylum; the date is July 13, 1808. Dr Coulmier (Joshua Blake Rippy), the “progressive” head of the institution, uses theater as therapy for his patients. He has encouraged his most notorious charge, the Marquis de Sade, to write and direct an account of the assassination of Jean-Paul Marat on the 15th anniversary of the event. He’s looking for a celebration of how successful the new regime is compared to the old. For his patients, and especially Sade, the difference is summed, “Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss.” Even the word “freedom” sets off the insane. Weiss has already set us up for layers of unreality. “Marat/Sade” is a play within a play in which the interior playwright may interact with his creations.

Historically, Marat was pushing for further bloodshed as the Revolution devolved to murderous infighting among factions. Charlotte Corday, representing a less violent faction, stabbed him to death in his bath in an effort to head off a civil war. The effort was in vain, and the Reign of Terror commenced.

We can dispense with the historical narrative, though; it’s not terribly relevant. Weiss put it, “Our play’s chief aim has been to take to bits great propositions and their opposites, see how they work, and let them fight it out.” The antagonists are Marat (Edmund Alyn Jones)and Sade (Joe Plambeck), polar opposites, representing anarchy and authoritarianism. Is there a winner? This is Brechtian theater; the resolution is left to each audience member.

This is edgy stuff. Ernest has toned down the violence and sex, but “Marat/Sade” still resonates on a primitive level. But as an educational experience for both artists and audience, it is unparalleled. Earnest’s notable achievement is his success in the Brechtian concept of “alienation.” Brecht, an ideologue to the bone, believed art was merely an educational tool. Thus “alienation” creates situations that interrupt the audiences’ imagination so that they can’t forget that it’s “only make-believe.”

The asylum residents are in mime makeup. Our narrator, “The Herald,” is the formidable Topher Payne, cross dressing in heels, a white slip, and red opera gloves. Overall, his remarkable performance is reminiscent of the Master of Ceremonies in “Cabaret.” Evoking that account of the failing Weimar Republic would warm the cockles of Becht’s Marxist heart.

Two especially satisfying performances stand out; Vanessa Sawson as a narcoleptic playing Charlotte Corday, paired with Brandon Grantz as a grabby satyromaniac playing Duperret, one of her compatriots. Their downstage-center dialogues practically define alienation as the artists portray multiple layers of fantasy, destroying them as the go.

Ultimately, though, Edmund Alyn Jones and Joe Plambeck own this show. Jones is able to limn both Marat and the paranoid patient that plays him without leaving a bathtub – a tub on wheels, no less. He holds his own against Plambeck’s imposing stage presence and the Marquis’s more appealing philosophy, a sort of libertine libertarianism. Plambeck plays one of the most memorable scenes; Sade dispenses political musings while being lashed (in mime, faint of hearts) at his own request.

“Marat/Sade” is not a production for the easily offended. Nor is it likely to entertain patrons with rigid prejudices. It instead demands an intellectual, internal discussion in each member of a discerning audience. Once again our society is caught in a riptide of clashing forces: It’s the wise citizen who will be ready.

SHOW DETAILS: “Marat/Sade” continues at the Hilberry Theatre, 4743 Cass Ave., Detroit, Thursday-Sunday through May 11, plus Wednesday, April 24. Running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes. Tickets: $12-30. For information: 313-577-2972 or www.Hilberry.com.

PRESS RELEASE: Be Entertained by the Clinically Insane at the Hilberry Theatre

Contemporary Guest-Director Matthew Earnest returns for Marat/Sade

Third-year Hilberry actors Edmund Aly Jones and Vanessa Sawson are set to star in 'Marat/Sade' this April.Photo: Patrick Pozezinski

Third-year Hilberry actors Edmund Alyn Jones and Vanessa Sawson are set to star in ‘Marat/Sade’ this April.
Photo: Patrick Pozezinski

DETROIT – Playing April 19 through May 11, 2013, the evocative and extraordinary Tony Award-winning play, Marat/Sade (The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade) by Peter Weiss, will conclude the Hilberry Theatre’s milestone 50th season. This legendary play-within-a-play is a wildly theatrical, multi-layered event not to be missed. Tickets for Marat/Sade range from $12–$30 and are available by calling the Hilberry Theatre Box Office at (313) 577-2972, online at http://www.hilberry.com, or by visiting the box office at 4743 Cass Avenue on the corner of Hancock.

The inmates of the Charenton Asylum for the Insane are putting on a show for you: a historical review of sorts concerning the last days of French patriot Jean-Paul Marat, murdered in his bathtub by a delusional country girl during the chaos that followed the French Revolution. The cast is unique to say the least – their afflictions range from narcolepsy to nymphomania and everything in between – but they’ve been thoroughly rehearsed by their director and fellow inmate, one of history’s most notorious outlaws, the Marquis de Sade.

After last season’s Much Ado About Nothing, guest-director Matthew Earnest returns to the Hilberry, using dance and a score by Richard Peaslee, to explore Peter Weiss’s seminal play of revolution and destiny. Earnest explains, “I don’t think Marat/Sade ‘deals extensively’ with the French Revolution. I believe that Peter Weiss is reframing events and people from the time of the French Revolution to discuss his own time – the Cold War and the brutal, oppressive era of the Berlin Wall…I think we still struggle with individual liberties and the common good. People really are in control of their own destinies, and that’s what this play is about. It’s not a history lesson on the French Revolution any more than Macbeth is a history lesson on Scottish politics.”

Fans of the recent Oscar-winning movie-adaptation of the famed musical Les Miserables and its subject matter of social plight and collective progress will not want to miss the chance to see these themes tackled in an avant-garde, live theatrical setting. While vastly different in approach, both explore similar themes using France’s tumultuous century of revolution as inspiration and metaphor.

Cast:

Alec Barbour (Kokol), Maggie Beson (Inmate), Miles Boucher (Holy Sister),  Christopher Call (Holy Sister), Danielle Cochrane (Rossignol), Mackenzie Conn (Inmate), Megan Dobbertin (Simonne Evrard), Nancy Florkowski (Inmate), Brandon Grantz (Dupperet), Brent Griffith (Male Nurse), Rahbi Hammond (Inmate), Edmund Alyn Jones (Marat), Annie Keris (Cocurucu), Joshua Miller (Polpoch), Ty Mitchell (Inmate), Sarah Hawkins Moan (Inmate), Chelsea Ortuno (Inmate), Topher Payne (Herald), Joe Plambeck (Sade), Joshua Blake Rippy (Coulmier), Vanessa Sawson (Corday), and David Sterritt (Roux).

Production Team:

Matthew Earnest (Director), Veronica Zahn (Stage Manager), Mercedes Coley (Assistant Stage Manager), Christopher Hall (Music Composer), Pegi Marshall-Amundsen (Scenic Designer), Samuel G. Byers (Lighting Designer), Mary Leyendecker (Costume Designer), Heather DeFauw (Sound Designer), Kimbra Essex (Property Master), Michael Wilkki (Technical Director), and Patrick Pozezinski (Publicity Design).

About the Hilberry Theatre Company

The Hilberry Theatre Company is the nation’s only professional theatre company that is staffed by graduate students and runs on a rotating repertory schedule.  Each academic year, about forty graduate students receive assistantships to work for the Hilberry Theatre and study for advanced degrees from Wayne State University. The company performs and produces an annual season of six plays, including high school matinees for nearly 6,000 students. For box office hours and information on performances, tickets, and group discounts and corporate packages, visit the theatre’s website at http://www.hilberry.com. Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 29,000 students.

The 2012–2013 Hilberry season is sponsored by CBS Outdoor, Between the Lines, and Encore Michigan.

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Marat/Sade
By Peter Weiss

Calendar Information:

Wednesday 2 p.m.      April 24 (Postshow Talkback)
Thursday 8 p.m.          April 25 (Preshow Discussion), May 2, May 9
Friday 8 p.m.               April 19 (Opening Night), April 26, May 3, May 10
Saturday 2 p.m.           May 4, May 11
Saturday 8 p.m.           April 20, April 27, May 4, May 11 (Closing Night)

Lisa D’Amour’s ‘Detroit’ reopens tonight at 8:00 p.m

Detroit by Lisa D’Amour is back on stage this weekend, Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m.! Following Saturday night’s performance, Susan Mosey, President of Midtown Detroit, Inc., will host a special talkback for audience members. We hope to see you there! You can check out Midtown Detroit, Inc. on Facebook Here: The Official Midtown Detroit – University Cultural Center Association, or visit their website.

Mark you calendars because there are only six performances left before Detroit closes Friday, April 5. Check out production photos form Detroit or join the Facebook event!

Left to right: Mary (Venessa Sawson), Ben (Joe Plambeck), Kenny (David Sterritt), and Sharon (Danielle Cochrane).Photo: Felix Li

Left to right: Mary (Venessa Sawson), Ben (Joe Plambeck), Kenny (David Sterritt), and Sharon (Danielle Cochrane).
Photo: Felix Li

Remaining Performances:

Thursday 8 p.m.         Mar. 28, Apr. 4
Friday 8 p.m.              Mar. 1, Apr. 5
Saturday 8 p.m.          Mar. 2, 23

REVIEW: ‘Detroit’ not the Detroit I know

Reviewed by Robert Delaney, Detroit New Monitor

Click HERE to read the review on the Encore Michigan’s website.

Left to right: Mary (Venessa Sawson), Ben (Joe Plambeck), Kenny (David Sterritt), and Sharon (Danielle Cochrane).Photo: Felix Li

Left to right: Mary (Venessa Sawson), Ben (Joe Plambeck), Kenny (David Sterritt), and Sharon (Danielle Cochrane).
Photo: Felix Li

A middle class husband and wife find their life changing in unexpected ways after they reach out to the new couple that moves in next door in Lisa D’Amour’s “Detroit,” which joined this season’s production at Wayne State’s Hilberry Theatre last month.

But don’t let the title mislead you into thinking this play has, well, anything to do with Detroit. While D’Amour did title it “Detroit,” it was apparently almost as an afterthought. Her indication of the setting was originally in a “first ring suburb” outside any mid-sized American city, according to the Hilberry’s press release. The Hilberry has changed this to: “The first ring of residential homes on the outskirts of downtown Detroit.”

D’Amour herself has said about her choice of calling it “Detroit”: “Something about the way the name of tha city vibrates in the American imagination – that name evokes the kind of iconic anxiety around the crumbling American dream.”

First, I always thought we were a “big” city, not a “mid-sized” one. But be that as it may, I think a play entitled “Detroit” should actually have something to say about Detroit.

Back when I was a kid, I remember that Detroit was all but ignored on national television programs, and in the few cases when something was supposed to be taking place in Detroit, it was usually just shot on the studio’s back lot on a set that didn’t look anything like Detroit.

That was a half-century ago, but I remember thinking it was pretty crummy to treat the fifth-largest city in the country that way. We may no longer have that ranking, but Detroit is a real place that has its own character – and Detroit’s story deserves to be told.

One would think scenic designer Pegi Marshall Amundsen, at least, would have tried to make the set look Detroit-ish. I suppose she may have thought she was doing that by including the old Michigan Central Depot in the distant background, but what about making the two houses look something like the houses typical of some neighborhood – in the first ring of residential homes on the outskirts of downtown Detroit”?

As to the plot, which sounds awfully reminiscent of Thomas Berger’s 1980 novel, “Neighbors,” which was made into a 1981 movie with John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd, I again fail to see much connection with Detroit.

None of this criticism, however, is meant to detract from the performance of the play. Director Lavinia Hart works with a fine group of grad-student actors in presenting the story.

Joe Plambeck and Venessa Sawson are Ben and Mary, the middle class couple. David Sterritt and Danielle Cochrane are Kenny and Sharon, the ever-stranger couple that moves in next door.

As the reckless wildness of Kenny and Sharon is released, Ben and Mary gradually succumb to the temptation to give in to their wilder urges. This doesn’t end well, and Edmund Alyn Jones comes in late in the play, as Frank, to deal with some of the consequences.

Amazingly, “Detroit” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, but then, I’m guessing the Pulitzer folks don’t know much about my city either.

SHOW DETAILS:“Detroit” continues in rotating repertory through April 5 at the Hilberry Theatre, at Cass and West Hancock on the WSU campus. For performance and ticket information, call 313-577-2972 or go to www.wsushows.com.

Reprinted with permission of the New Monitor, Feb. 7, 2013

REVIEW: ‘Detroit’ sizzles onstage

Reviewed by: Alana Walker, The South End

Click HERE to read the review on The South End website.

Ben (Joe Plambeck)Photo Credit: Felix Lee

Ben (Joe Plambeck)
Photo Credit: Felix Lee

Interacting with neighbors, especially new ones, can be a challenge for anyone. Add on the fact that the new neighbors, who claim to be newly released from drug rehab, seem to be a little strange and possibly hiding something, the task of being neighborly can be a daunting one.

In Detroit by Lisa D’Amour, the lives of two unlikely couples become intertwined, allowing them to learn about themselves, their partners and the important things in life. The show, set in the first string of residential homes on Detroit’s outskirts, slowly reveals secrets as the two couples. Despite the title, the actual city of Detroit didn’t play a major role in the plot of the story. With only a few references to Detroit in the script, the play could be relatable to almost anyone.

In the beginning of the show, Ben (Joe Plambeck) and his wife Mary (Vanessa Sawson) seem to have it all together while new neighbors Kenny (David Sterritt) and Sharon (Danielle Cochrane), who are renting the house from Frank (Edmund Alyn Jones), seem to be the complete opposite. The clash in personalities resulted in tense serious moments as well as some hilariously awkward moments throughout the show.

While the pacing of the show can seem a tad slow at some points, the sizzling dialogue is more than enough to keep the audience engaged, and the script eventually intensifies, resulting in scorching chemistry between the actors.

The show’s lead characters each had distinct and strong personalities, which require equally strong actors. All of the actors’ portrayals were engaging, believable and well developed, but perhaps the most impressive performances came from the ladies. Sawson and Cochrane both delivered compelling performances, bringing complexity and charm to their characters; Mary being a put-together wife with a suppressed wild side and Sharon, the strong free spirit.

The men’s performances were a refreshing compliment to their female counterparts. Their characters were both pure and elaborate, but above all, genuine. The differentiation of age and social classes between these two neighbors was undeniably evident through the acting, costume design and scenic design.

The realistic set was equipped with two undeniably accurate homes viewed from their backyard on both far sides of the stage; one very conservatively decorated, the other desolate and empty. Perched between the two houses was the dark skyline of the city. One of the most impressive things about the technical aspects of the show was the fact that the actors actually cooked steak on stage — this absolutely blew my mind. It’s something I’ve never seen before, and the sizzle, smoke and smell from a grill is something that can’t easily be duplicated. Because of the importance of the backyard grill to the characters, I think actually grilling on stage for that brief amount of time was such a great decision.

For those planning to see the show, expect nothing less than a vivid dark comedy with genuine characters and an attention-grabbing stage. The play runs until April 5 at the Hilberry Theatre.

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