Monday, November 06, 2017

Boston Playwrights' Theatre Presents "Elemeno Pea" by Molly Smith Metzler - Through November 19th

Boston Playwrights' Theatre champions new works, and the latest play in their current season is the entertaining "Elemeno Pea," written by Molly Smith Metzler and Directed by Shana Gozansky. Scenic Design is by Jeffrey Petersen, Lighting and Sound Design by David Wilson, Costume Design by Rachel Padula-Shufelt.

The action takes place on Martha's Vineyard, where Simone (Lydia Barnett-Mulligan) has been hired by the very wealthy Michaela (Samantha Richert) to be her personal assistant and companion - at an outrageously high salary. But she is on call 24/7, and has not seen her sister, Devon (Amanda Collins) for months. Simone takes the weekend off and invites Devon to travel to The Vineyard for a few days of sisterly bonding. Things do not go as planned. Michaela is in crisis. Her status as trophy wife #2 is very much in jeopardy, and she needs Simone to help her to handle her meltdown. Michaela tries to bribe Devon to leave the island, but Devon is not having it, and a hilarious power struggle ensues. Further complications arise when Devon meets Simone's boyfriend, Ethan (Barlow Adamson), an uber-entitled rich boy whose life cannot be sullied by such a thing as "gainful employment." Rounding out this fine cast is Jaime Carrillo, who plays the passive-aggressive gardener/handyman, Jos-B.

The playwright lampoons many things in this comedy, while also plumbing the depths of some poignant issues such as abortion, family dysfunction, and classism. There are power struggles galore - some overt and some more subtle. Devon works at an Olive Garden restaurant in Buffalo, so one might think that Michaela holds a power position over her, but Devon is feisty and holds her own. Michael is in a struggle with her off-stage husband, who threatens to end the marriage before the five year prenuptial agreement vests.  Jos-B uses his native Spanish language as a tool to humiliate Michaela when he learns that she has lost her leverage over him.

Lydia Barnett-Mulligan and Samantha Richert (foreground)
Amanda Collins (background)
"Elemeno Pea"by Molly Smith Metzler
Boston Playwrights' Theatre
Through November 19th
Photo by Zalman Zabarsky

Cast members are uniformly excellent. The versatile Mr. Adamson plays the playboy in Vinelyard salmon trousers to a tee. Mr. Carillo raises passive-aggression to an art form. Ms. Richert takes Michaela through an arc that includes her finally showing some humanity and vulnerability when Devon finds a way to soften her up. Ms.Collins is at her best in these final scenes. And Ms. Barnett-Mulligan is convincing as Simone who has gone off the rails and been seduced by money and power. This ensemble is directed with a deft touch by Shana Gozansky.

The play runs through November 19th.

Boston Playwrights' Theatre Website



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