There's a new game in town...

After much cajoling, a new blogger has emerged from the mists of 'Two Hours Traffic', one with no less passion and geektastic knowledge of theatre than this blog's noble founder, but with a little something different to bring to the table. A little something like... *FLAILING* and CAPSLOCK!

THT assures me that there's a place here for bloggers like myself, so I wanted to share a few brief thoughts about productions that have just opened in the last week. In the past week, I was able to attend performances of The K of D at Woolly Mammoth and Argonautika at the Shakespeare Theatre (compare and contrast our thoughts in the original review below!).

First, let me say the simple response that came from seeing these two shows: GO. Just... GO NOW. GOGOGOGOGOGO. The two plays are massively different pieces of theatre, but each is an incredibly powerful new work that demands to be seen.

The K of D is a one-woman play by Laura Schellhardt being staged in Woolly's rehearsal hall. It's a tiny space, made STILL TINIER by the sheets draped around the stage and audience. But never fear- those sheets serve a purpose as screens for shadow and light that are used to massive effect throughout. It's such a small show in some ways, but it's a fantastic example of how theatre doesn't need flashy FX and big budgets to be capable of producing a heartstopping moment.

The main reason, of course, to see this play is Kimberly Gilbert. Honestly, I should be able to stop right there and let you scramble off to buy your tickets (80 seats in the house and a limited run so MOVE IT) because, yes, she is That Good. She plays more than a dozen characters in the course of the evening and convinces you ENTIRELY of each one. There's never a moment of doubt in your mind who she's meant to be from moment to moment and it's remarkable to watch her total transformation and sublimation of self into these roles.

I also should say at this point that, while I'd still stand by my statement that watching KG go to town is worth the price of admission (did you not SEE her in Martha, Josie, and the Chinese Elvis?), this isn't a play that's just about letting an actor show off for an audience. This play is GOOD. It's such a brilliant piece of storytelling, one that gets to the heart and soul of the art and furthermore, relentlessly pokes at the question of WHY we tell stories in the first place. The subtitle of the evening is 'An Urban Legend' and while of course there's the element of 'I've got one!' that's known so well to us all, there's so much more behind it all. There's such a vulnerability in the Girl who tells the story of the K of D, something so very brave in standing alone before eighty people and having the strength to raise her voice and tell Charlotte's story.

GO. GOGOGOGOGOGOGO. GO. You'll be grateful that you got to see it, I promise.

4.5 stars. Easy. Kimberly is a goddess and this story is a thing of beauty, brilliantly told by the playwright and the director.

As you've already read one review of Argonautika, my thoughts will be brief. Well, I continue my refrain of GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO, obviously. But wait- you want more? FINE.

Basically, it blew me away with the power of its amazingness. I had gone earlier in the day to the Windows discussion hosted by the Theatre, and had fallen just a wee bit in love with Mary Zimmerman. Folks, she is SASSY and kind of looks like a rumpled up college professor at whose feet you just want to curl up and be her protege for as long as she'll have you. She uses silly voices and flails with her hands while she speaks and she is AWESOME. :D

I'd never gotten to see any of her plays before and was, I admit, a little worried. I knew the spectacle would be incredible and pretty and blahblahcreativecakes, but I feel that a long time ago, I'd read that for all their gorgeous pageantry, her shows lacked the accompanying emotional resonance and ended up being a little hollow.

This is NOT AT ALL THE CASE for this show. It tore my heart out, people- the loss of Hylas was gutting and then, oh god, then came Medea. I've always been fascinated by her story, from what you read in Hamilton to Euripides and even Marie Christine, the musical by Michael John LaChiusa that took the legend and mixed it in with the story of the daughter of Marie Laveau. So it's not incorrect in thinking that I might have both a bias and very high standards when it comes to this character. Therefore, take it as high praise when I say that MZ gave her a fascinating spin. I kind of hate to describe it in detail here, as it MUST be seen, but what the hey- just promise you'll believe me when I say that I feel like I can describe this ONE image because the play provides SO MANY MORE.

When we first see her, she's almost catatonic, lolling in a chair in the corner of the stage and not paying the least bit of attention to these wacky Argonauts who've come a-calling. It's then that she's hit with Eros' arrow (carried across the stage by Aphrodite, who just.. stabs her with it) and she's reeling and barely makes it off stage. When next we see her, she's wearing a belt over the dress that's rigged as though the arrow were permanently lodged in her torso, with the point gone clear through her back. Where it 'hits', there's a tiny bit of blood on the belt and needleworking in red in sinuous patterns along the length of the material. It's horrifying, really it is. More than anything else I'd ever seen, it underscored the violence of the upheaval in her life, of this sudden love she has for her father's enemy and all the violence that will happen in the future. The actress who plays her did a fantastic job with her physicality, giving her this awkwardness and uncertainty in all her movements, as though (stay with me here) Medea were the Weird Girl that no one would talk to high school. I had a flash of Ally Sheedy in 'Breakfast Club'- she's strange and does bizarre things and bursts in with non sequitors and off-kilter remarks and you don't know what to DO with her so you just don't try. As time and the story goes on, that arrow never leaves her body, and as she throws her lot in with Jason and the betrayals and murders start, the bloodstains on her dress, leaking from her wound, become larger and larger until her dress is almost entirely red. It is a STUNNING stage picture to watch unfold. Just... wow. MZ remarked in the talk that while writing the play, she had jokingly invented a second title for the piece: Medea, and How She Got There. It shows.

BESIDES all the awesome Medea stuff, there's so much humour that I wasn't really expecting. There's a wonderful fluidity in the ensemble's ability to go from choral verse to contemporary speech patterns, not to mention the kickass-ity of the ensemble in general. And MUSIC oh my LORD- the women of Lemnos' story is told in a heartwrenching song that yeah, kind of reworks their story and leaves out the whole, you know, spurning Aphrodite = MAKE YOU SMELLY! thing but it's BEAUTIFUL and I DON'T CARE. They also turned the listing of the Argonauts into this awesome chant thing that makes you want to jump from your seat and join the crazy expedition- which is entirely the point, oh MZ I have such a crush on you...

So now I pretty much want to go reread everything about Greek mythology EVER, or least Medea and just...

PEOPLE. If you at all can, GO SEE. It's beautiful and funny and heartbreaking and BEAUTIFUL and it's not empty, not at all, it's GLORIOUS. I honestly did want to sit in silence in an empty theatre when it was done- for all the infectious good spirit of the curtain call, I wanted to curl up with my miraculous play and let it settle. Yes. It was THAT GOOD.

4.5 out of 5, because I feel like I'll get a reputation as the Easy Girl if I go and give away my 5 Star First Time off the bat.

I'm basically a sucker for stories about stories and this week was as though someone told the Good Theatre Fairy that I had been minding my manners well enough to deserve a Special Treat and I was granted two plays that hit my most favoritest Awesome Button with a solid THUNK (you know about Awesome Buttons- those little themes or motifs that, any time you see them, their very presence is enough for wellsprings of joy to flow forth from deep within your soul that can carry you through hours of lesser entertainment)


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