Sunday, August 27, 2017

Alley Cat Theater Presents "Plank" - A World Premiere at Boston Center for the Arts

Alley Cat Theater Founding Artistic Director John Greiner-Ferris has written a fascinating new play that is being premiered at Boston Center for the Arts Calderwood Pavilion. "Plank" is at its heart a thought-provoking allegory and morality play that strives to move the audience to care about a wide range of issues plaguing our nation and our planet. It is an impressive inaugural offering by this new company, named for Mr. Greiner-Ferris two daughters, Allison and Kathryn.

The action of the play takes place at sea, and then on land. Potpee (Poornima Kirby) has emerged as the only apparent survivor of a ship wreck, and she is staying afloat and alive by clinging to a plank. During her hours of paddling and trying to find land, she has much time for reflection and observation. She becomes aware that the ocean is a living thing. Theatrically, this concept is beautifully portrayed using the confluence of several artistic streams. Scenic Designer JiYoung Han has conceived a wondrous backdrop that allows the audience to suspend disbelief and imagine a surging ocean with many shades of blue and aquamarine. Lighting/Projections Designer Barbara Craig has created fascinating undulating patterns that make one feel as if the ocean is swelling, heaving, ebbing, and flowing. Sounds Design by Ned Singh and Original Music by Peter Warren and Matt Somalis add to the effect. Director Megan Schy Gleeson brilliantly uses the remaining cast members to evoke the feel of living elements within the briny deep. Liz Adams, Sydney Grant, Fray Cordero, and Adam Lokken tumble, cavort, somersault, roll, swim, crawl, and interact with the plank in a dizzying array of perpetual motion that is mesmerizing in its beauty. The extended sequence is beautifully choreographed and energetically and fluidly executed by the actors/dancers. The playwright is inviting Potpee - and the audience - to realize that we are one with nature and must respect its sanctity and life-giving essence.

Liz Adams as Chop
Adam Lokken as Fetch
Poornima Kirby as Potpee
Sydney Grant as Spume
by John Greiner-Ferris
Alley Cat Theater
Calderwood Pavilion

I will not reveal much more of the plot, for fear of spoiling some nice surprises, but Mr. Greiner-Ferris proceeds to address an ocean full of ecological and social issues as the play comes to full flood. Among the issues that wash up throughout the play are the use and abuse of cell phones and social media, the deteriorating nature of friendship, the use of the ocean as a garbage dump, the continued slaughter of whales, bureaucratic inanities on the part of ICE and Border Patrol officials, the coercive attempts by government to force conformity, the horrors of gay conversion therapy, the mindless exploitation of nature for mining, the nefarious agenda of the Alt-Right and Christian Right, the brainwashing of the next generation, and the turning of patriotism into jingoism. The role of evolution and devolution is a leitmotif that flows through the play.

Eventually, Potpee washes ashore, where she is met by Mercedes (a brilliantly officious Liz Adams bedecked in a red, white, and blue star spangled official uniform - Costumes by Elizabeth Rocha.) Mercedes clings tenaciously to her clipboard, containing checklists of rules and regulations with which to deny the alien Potpee entry to the country. She cradles that clipboard as if it were her own plank, keeping her afloat atop a sea of restrictive decrees and intrusive questions. Thimble (a very spritely Sydney Grant) is shadowing Mercedes and is torn between conforming to accepted norms, or buying into Potpee's world view more attuned to nature.

This is an ambitious project. At times it seems as if the playwright has bitten off more topics than he could chew on and develop. And there are moments when the tone seems polemical and preachy, but the overall effect is impressive and moving. Ms. Kirby and Ms. Adams carry much of the dialogue and soliloquizing. They are excellent, as are Ms. Grant, Mr. Cordero, and Mr. Lokken. Cordero and Lokken move wonderfully together in portraying a family of whales swimming in the ocean.

This is a play worth seeing and meditating on. It will continue through September 16th.



1 comment:

RedCapp Web Development said...

Your site is actually special. I've discovered your site revolutionary. You've chosen really amazing style for the drawing. We valued this.

affordable web design USA