BWW Special Feature: 99 and Under the Radar, A Look at Indie Theatre's Movers and Shakers
Welcome to 99 AND UNDER THE RADAR: A LOOK AT INDIE THEATER'S MOVERS AND SHAKERS, BroadwayWorld's new weekly series that showcases standout productions and production companies from the independent theater scene in New York City. Each week, independent producer Michael Roderick will be discussing the latest goings on in the theatrical wings, highlighting those with potentially bright futures.
This Week's Topic: No Fault along these "Lines"
Often when one receives a press release in which the playwright is also a performer in the show, and to that extent the lead, the panic sets in. The question then becomes: which will win out, the acting or the writing? In one of the rarest of cases in the Indie world, Rebecca Louise Miller production of Fault Lines, presented by Invisible City, manages to rise above all of these concerns and deliver a piece that is provocative, powerful, and personal.
The synopsis reads: "Twenty years after witnessing a shocking crime, three childhood friends reunite to bring closure to the experience that scarred their community and shaped their lives." This is an apt description as playwright Rebecca Louise Miller has crafted a tale that focuses with deft precision on the characters of these three women, making each so extraordinarily unique that one can see this play being given to new acting students in the same way that Crimes of the Heart is handed out in a character study class. It could even be argued that as this show continues to develop, it could be this generation's version of Crimes. Beth Henley fans, take note. It's also not surprising to see that the show has already achieved a few accolades before the mounting of this production.
Fault Lines was a semi-finalist in the 2009 O'Neill Playwrights Conference and a finalist for the Lark's Playwright week, which is not surprising considering Miller's talent for dispensing important and shocking information at just the right the moments without being heavy handed. The play begins on a very light note, with a comical over the top meeting of friends and slowly continues to peel layer after layer of the story until it bleeds, and when it does, the audiences feels it. In much the same way one doesn't notice the pian of a cut until looking at it, the audience doesn't see how deep the divide is between these women until Miller draws us into a series of climactic confrontations each one more startling than the one before.
NYU Alumn David Epstein (Also the Artistic Director of ICTC) has assembled a very solid team to tell this story. Joe Novak's haunting lighting compliments Ira Haskell's sparse set, so that we are immersed in the world of memory. Epstein also gest great performances out of his leads in the production. Miller is a standout with such a subtle delivery that when she has a cathartic moment it is heart wrenching. Jenna Doolittle's performance as Bethany is also riveting as we watch her go from a bubbly epervescent Susie-homemaker type, to a truly disturbing individual who makes a shocking choice about forgiveness in the later moments of the play. Rounding out the cast is Anais Alexandra who's performance as Kat show's us just how much someone can restrain themselves and finally Tobin Ludwig's portrayal of a news reporter leaps beyond traditional stereotypes to give us a very personal look at what the challenges of being a journalist actually are.
The show itself was inspired by the infamous Polly Klass kidnapping of the 90's and keeps the kidnapper present without ever making him a character on stage, much in the same way, the father is on the outskirts of the audience's mind in The Glass Menagerie, we are forced to imagine this kidnapper and his absence in all of this, could very well be the most disturbing thing of all. There is no doubt that Miller has a very strong piece on her hands and she is a playwright to keep an eye out for. This is also a nice feather in Invisible City's cap as well. The show is running until the 19th at The Dorothy Strelsin Theatre and you can get tickets here.
But grab them now as this is a small house and is sure to fill up as word of this new gem of a show spreads. And, be sure to keep an eye on Rebecca Louise Miller in the future.
Read more of Michael's insights at www.oneproducerinthecity.typepad.com.