BWW Review: MIRANDA Thrills at Indiana Repertory Theatre
Miranda is a CIA operative working in Yemen in the current upperstage production at the Indiana Repertory Theatre. Written by IRT's playwright-in-residence James Still, the show is the third play in a trilogy he created. The first play, The House that Jack Built premiered at the IRT in 2012. The second play, Appoggiatura, is part of the theatre's 2017/18 season. Each play works as a stand alone, but they deal with a single family and a tragedy that has shaped their lives.
At its heart Miranda is about identity. The titular character is strong-willed and stubborn. The only thing fluid about her is the constant shift in her public persona. She goes by four different names in the short time we have with her. Her identity is shaped by her work and family.When her faith in the identity she's created is shaken, she begins to question everything.
Jennifer Coombs embodies the broken but brash Miranda. Her layered performance captures the troubled spy's inner turmoil. She shows warmth as she meets with a possible informant, she's antagonistic with her caustic boss, and she's tender on a one-sided phone call with her mother. Mary Beth Fisher was a scene-stealer as both Rose, a charismatic woman from Baton Rouge, and Lauren.
I am consistently moved by the language in Still's plays. His dialogue flows so smoothly, flipping back and forth with a natural rhythm and pulling you into the story. This show was no exception and there are many lines, like "Remembering the past is easy. Imagining the future takes guts." that stood out. The set was incredibly detailed, including a hand-painted mosaic on the floor and a warm glow from hanging lanterns. Scenic designer Ann Sheffield captured the feel of a Middle Eastern area while keeping things simple.
Though the show is being promoted as a thriller, it never feels that way to me. Thrillers tend to be plot driven, while "Miranda" feels distinctly character driven. I think it's more accurate to say it's a study of grief and how for some it becomes the driving force of their life.
Don't Miss the Show
The Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, one-half block west of the Circle Center Mall between northbound Illinois St. and southbound Capitol Ave. "Miranda" runs until April 23 on IRT's Upperstage. To purchase tickets or find performance times, call (317) 635-5252 or order online at www.irtlive.com.
Content advisory: Miranda is a psychological drama that contains strong language, references to sexuality and offstage references to war-like situations.