BWW Reviews: TheatreLAB Delivers Powerful GRACE by Craig Wright
As an entry into the Acts of Faith Festival, Richmond's newest company, TheatreLAB, offers high stakes drama with Craig Wright's GRACE. An exploration of faith in a deteriorating world, GRACE is not afraid to ask tough questions or to pry into human relationships at their most vulnerable states. With only one weekend remaining, treat yourself to one of the most compelling dramas of the season, penned by a Six Feet Under and Brothers and Sisters alumnus.
Steve (Alexander Sapp) and Sara (McLean Jesse) have relocated from Minnesota to Florida in pursuit of an exciting business opportunity. But as each thread unravels, the Bible-thumping couple grows further apart, and Sara finds herself gravitating toward Sam (Nicklas Aliff), the unkempt neighbor with a tragic and scarred past. Karl (Eric Dobbs), the exterminator, adds great perspective to a messy situation.
Deejay Gray directs the quartet with vigor and the poise of a seasoned veteran, making great use of the intimate space. Each member of the audience is given a front row seat to the living rooms of Steve and Sarah and Sam (a singular set), and can easily capture the nuances of each powerful performance.
The minimalist set design by Gray and Jesse is affected by subtle tones provided by floor lamps and evenly placed lighting orchestrated by Michael Jarett. Maggie Bavolack's sound design incorporates faith-based music that underscores the production. Caron Sinnenberg provides costumes appropriate for the setting.
Sapp's Steve, once tender and passionate and filled with nervous energy, has a convincingly sycophantic and maniacal turn in his final desperate plea. Jesse's Sara is tender and damaged and reveals a great deal of conflict through the simplest movements, gestures and gazes.
Aliff's Sam has a heartbreaking and frightening past. He brings great energy and range to his performance, and proves that Sam's physical handicap is no match for his intensity. Dobbs' Karl is the voice of reason, offering his own personal experiences and misfortunes with sprinklings of honesty and humor.
With fast-paced storytelling, high-handed direction and mesmerizing performances, GRACE is a best bet for Richmond theatregoers.