Monday, June 25, 2012


Stephen Heskett, Hanna Cheek
Photo: Deborah Alexander
With Sovereign, playwright Mac Rogers and director Jordana Williams bring home the wonderful Honeycomb Trilogy with verve, humor, and a bit of campiness. Amidst the entertainment, you find yourself pondering politics, loss, tribal allegiances, and leadership. (In case this sounds dry, let me point out that one test of leadership here is whether to kill the giant bug queen before she gives birth to thousands of bug children.) With propulsive, enthralling story-telling, Rogers shows how good people can do bad things, how one person's self-defense is another person's (or bug's) genocide, and how hard it is to maintain a soft spot when life forces you to be hard.

Plot-wise, the play focuses mostly on a showdown between siblings Ronnie, a resistance leader, and Abbie, who persists in seeing the invaders as liberators.

The mostly strong cast includes Hanna Cheek as Ronnie and Stephen Heskett as Abbie. Cheek has a slight tendency toward mugging, but can be heart-breaking. Heskett yells a bit too loud for the small theatre, and he seems too robust to have ever needed Ronnie's protection, but he catches all the complexities of his character. Matt Golden is excellent as the official who wants to prove his toughness; Neimah Djourabchi is charming as Ronnie's comic relief lover; the beautiful Medina Senghore needs a bit more gravitas as the defense attorney who goes against Ronnie, but has good moments; Daryl Lathon is effective but often too soft-spoken to be heard; and Sara Thigpen projects amazing amounts of strength and intelligence in a small role.

Sandy Yaklin's effective set does its part depicting the changing fortunes of Ronnie and Abbie and the passing of time. Fight choreographer Joe Mathers has staged some impressively convincing fighting.  

Sovereign is not as polished as its predecessors, and the speed of the dialogue, while theatrically effective, sometimes makes it difficult to keep track of what is going on (particularly for people who didn't see the first two parts). But its faults disappear in comparison with its excellence.

For years, critics have debated about whether science fiction can be literature. There is among many a conviction that once you add alien invaders, human subtleties go out the window. Once again, Mac Rogers has proved them wrong.

(first row; press ticket)

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