Review Roundup: WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME in Los Angeles at the Mark Taper Forum - What Did the Critics Think?
What the Constitution Means to Me officially opened this week at the Mark Taper Forum. Starring Maria Dizzia, written by Heidi Schreck and directed by Oliver Butler, performances will continue through February 28.
In addition to Maria Dizzia, the cast of "What the Constitution Means to Me" includes original Broadway cast members Rosdely Ciprian and Mike Iveson as well as local debater Jocelyn Shek (who alternates in the role with Ciprian). Gabriel Marin and Jessica Savage are understudies.
Direct from Broadway, playwright Heidi Schreck's boundary-breaking play breathes new life into our Constitution and imagines how it will shape the next generation of Americans. Fifteen-year-old Heidi earned her college tuition by winning Constitutional debate competitions across the United States. In this hilarious, hopeful and achingly human new play, she resurrects her teenage self in order to trace the profound relationship between four generations of women and the founding document that shaped their lives.
Let's see what the critics are saying...
Don Grigware, BroadwayWorld: Under Oliver Butler's smooth and even staging, the actors are real and alive with passion and fire, making the material rich and of urgent consideration. Bringing in a young girl to debate makes total sense within the context of the play. It first of all shows how advanced young minds have become.and serves to set the tone for our future generations of female citizens who must struggle to win their place of equality. Rosdely's quote below, for me, signals why everyone should go and see What the Constitution Means to Me.
"Throwing out the Constitution doesn't mean we would be throwing out sexism or racism. It would be at best, a superficial change. Democracy is not something that happens to us because we magically change a piece of paper. Democracy is something we have to make happen, we have to fight for, every single day. If you want to change the country, you need to wake up. Run for local office, run for student government. Protest. Put pressure on your representatives. Start with your own personal constitution and build your way out. Thank you."
Charles McNulty, LA Times: If the show sounds like it might have a medicinal aftertaste, rest assured that "What the Constitution Means to Me" is playful, often amusing and at times piercing in its pathos. The conceit of the play is that Schreck, a champion orator who racked up college scholarship money when she was a teen giving speeches around the country on the U.S. Constitution, is re-creating a contest in which she came out on top.
Elaine Mura, Splash Magazines: Directed with a firm hand by Oliver Butler, who manages to tell Schreck's story through her memories and then in real time, WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME is highly effective and involving. The audience is even given a handy ACLU copy of the U.S. Constitution in order to reflect later on points brought up in this thought-provoking play. The tricky transition from play to real life is seamless and intriguing. Rachel Hauck's scenic design sets the stage for what's to come, and the entire production team does a good job of highlighting the tale. Overall, this is a fascinating look at American history through the eyes of a teen girl who grows up to question the sacrosanct with wit and wisdom.