BWW Reviews: Beneath Theatrical Outfit's Impactful Production of THE GUYS
Most people in America remember where they were when the September eleventh attacks happened. I was innocently sitting in a Spanish class practicing my challenging conjugations when a fellow student asked me if I had heard the news. Not many students were in class that day and the professor was tardy.
Based on a true story, The Guys examines two characters' emotional and physical journeys through the September eleventh attacks. A New York Fire Department Captain, Nick, approaches a writer by the name of Joan to assist him with eulogies for several of his firemen that were killed in the collapse of the Twin Towers. Nick seemingly rambles on about each individual man and how their quotidian lives left an imprint on the world around them. Joan, then, expertly translates the Captain's common, everyman vernacular and refines into a tribute worthy of his men's sacrifice.
Produced by Theatrical Outfit and housed at the Balzer Theater at Herren's, The Guys is framed by a simple, yet effectual set containing a small table, chairs and various common household items. Miscellaneous projections are used to add texture to each scene. However, the set was eclipsed by the energy from the actors. Jasmine Guy's portrayal of Joan was so stunning that several of the audience members remarked that they felt that she was talking to only them. In fact, her depiction was so intimate that I had to fight the urge to answer the questions she often asked the audience. Brian Kurlander performed as the NYPD Captain and was a phenomenal addition to the allegory. With such a substantial topic and exceptional cast mate, it would be very easy for most actors to be overshadowed. But, Kurlander communicates the Captain with humility acknowledging that the story is more important than his own characterization. In the final scene, Captain Nick delivers remarks about one of his heroic firemen and Kurlander chose to physically stand a little taller than during the rest of the performance. His choice for an extra inch in height helped the audience leave the theatre feeling a little taller and prouder themselves.
The writer of The Guys has crafted a story that challenges the audience and requires them to acknowledge their reaction to the 9/11 attacks. Author Anne Nelson takes a subject that often faces media over saturation and brings a more poignant, human, and personal focus to what has become in our culture the most remembered and forgotten event to happen to this generation. This humanizing performance is sure to inspire a continuing dialogue, not just about the subject matter, but about all subjects that deeply effect us for weeks to come. As it is so stated, our discussions and discourses afterwards is what comprised that second act of this impactful and emotionally driven theatrical experience.
One of the central focuses in the drama are the questions that we asked each other in the wake of this tragedy. "Are you ok? Did you lose anyone? Did you lose family?" In much the same way, it is the questions that we ask having seen this play coupled with the final question that the performance asks it's audience that creates one of the most touching theatrical performances that has come out in recent memory.
For those of you looking to have a truly memorable experience, The Guys will be playing at 84 Luckie Street NW in Atlanta through October 6th. I highly recommend you visit theatricaloutfit.org for more information.