The stage is laid bare for the telling of a Greek tragedy, Dionysus and everyman alike waiting to see what may unfold between mortals, the gods, and fate. What transpires is the cutting and refreshing neoclassicist tale of "One World" devouring itself as the gods look on and laugh; all playing out at The Elephant Theater, with an extremely talented cast living the words of Playwright Robert J. Litz and sharply Directed by David Fofi.
Litz has written an "Issue Play"; a play of ideas that makes an audience think in the moment and translate the vague generalities of other peoples pain into a concept that we all may be more intertwined than would be comfortable for most of us.
The idea here is a plant shut down and outsourcing of its Jobs. Simple and clear cut. Now dive beneath the surface of the obvious with Litz and a talented company and what occurs is a complex tale involving three core families and myriad's of other innocents whose lives, already invisibly intertwined, change forever. The writing is astute and the flow of some scenes is reminiscent of Albee, at other moments we have shades of Terkel and the characters, Chorus and story flow along, one into another.
George (Robert Brewer) is the conscious of the piece. The hard working union plant guy who never takes risks, but provides and has faith. Brewer could have easily stereotyped the character, but instead made choices that delivered a man with a heart, soul
His wife Ellen (Cheryl Huggins) is steadfast in her support, and Huggins layers an anxious feeling of being part of an obsolete species beneath her supportive exterior.
Across the spectrum are Peter and Elizabeth, two shooting stars whose lives and livelihoods depend on the deal at hand. Mim Drew is perfection as Elizabeth, and it is safe to say we all, unfortunately, know her. Don Cesario play's the Achilles heal card his character Peter is dealt with an understated desperation; that of a modern day corporate VP who also has a conscience. Jade Dornfeld as their daughter Brandi, is left to tune out and turn on, another intelligent lost soul. On the other side of the Class tracks from both these couples we find Curtis (Keith
Ewell) and Stephanie (Tara Thomas). Ewell plays Curtis with a strong sexual facade all hiding the worker and dreamer beneath, and Thomas Is raw and real with a streetwise wisdom.
The overlord of the tragedy is Mr. IMF (Brendan Conner), a sweaty, ugly, soulless fat cat who is the incarnation of mindless capitalist exploit. Conner made us cringe with his swagger and unapologetic take on the rape of the human spirit for monetary gain. Whether in the spotlight or shadows he is always
there to laugh and pull strings.
Fofi and movement coordinator Dylan Jones keeps him as part of a masterful flow of humanity, embodied by the Chorus, who arrive on stage at the outset dressed like the sky itself and who land individually with stellar performances before drifting back into the stream that carries the cast on it's journey. Marco Villalvazo is a true standout as are Terrance Flack and Tim Starks. The ensemble playing the chorus has so many strong individual moments they are difficult to list.
The urge to ask ourselves and our audiences to think is rare, and theater is frequently a wasted opportunity to explore the greater issues that our sound byte, "Entertain me" generation needs to begin to think about in order to survive. Issues like "what happens when we live blind to all other lives but our own ?" We should welcome a return to thought. What is alive and pulsing about the Elephant Company's 'One World" is a playwright who is not afraid to speak these ideas and a company of actors who are not afraid to reach to deliver us, thoughtfully, home.
- Kevin Kindlin Printable