Saturday, September 26, 2009

Thunder Above, Deeps Below

It's quite a sight, this play, with lavish costumes, grandiloquent sound design, and a spectacular set by Sandra Goldmark. It also boasts some very fine performances, led by Maureen Sebastian, who was so good as the swashbuckling hero of Soul Samurai back in February. The material, however, is somewhat lacking. The script veers from overly self-conscious poetics to cliched and unrealistic dialogue. It's a testament to the skill of the actors that we nevertheless grow to like and appreciate these homeless teens, rooting for them to get to their Promised Land of San Francisco, just as we root for the production, which has many good elements, to reach the transcendent heights suggested by Sandra Goldmark's two-level, industrial-mythic set. It never does, partly because it tries too hard to escape the base world of humanity. The play's second flaw is the way the playwright weaves a perplexing and unnecessary element of magic through the plot. The scenery may be operatic, but the characters aren't mythic heroes; in spite of their sometimes unrealistic dialogue, the cast makes them seem real to us. That's why we like them. Applying magic to point their way and solve their problems seems like cheating. Read the full review. Photo by Cory Weaver.

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