Intelligent Terrific ensemble Sharp direction and staging Well written effortless dialogue Refreshing
See it if You're up for a compelling meditation on stories & storytelling; witnessing & being part of the stagecraft that makes it possible.
Don’t see it if Unless you're looking for a perfect play, no reason not to. It's always a pleasure to see fine actors working well in layered performances.
Stories—hearing them, telling them, retelling them—are pretty intrinsic to our species. So here's a story about telling stories wherein a character embodied by the terrific Rebecca Naomi Jones tells us a story—and in so doing fills the stage and conjures up the oldest and most direct form of theatre. It's an ancient, wild, primal and almost tactile moment; a rare thing to see onstage these days, but Rinne Groff's script, with its effortless, spontaneous dialogue pulls it off neatly, in no small part because of the engaged, present and convincing cast.
Jones, Enver Gjokaj and Kyle Beltran work seamlessly, naturally, Marissa Wolf's direction sharp and invisible. A pity, then, that the slim present-day plot resting on the making of an indie film about the 1903 fire that destroyed the Poor Man's Riviera and its circus animals has to carry so much weight. Its emotional plot points are predictable a mile away, and the play never quite gels, but Jones' powerful performance just about pulls it through, and if you listen well, you might well be transported.
Kyle Beltran, Enver Gjokaj, Rebecca Naomi Jones Photo: Joan Marcus