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Review Roundup: What Did the Critics Think of Rattlestick's LEWISTON and CLARKSTON?


Lewiston & Clarkston

Rattlestick's Lewiston and Clarkston officially opened last night, October 25.

Together the plays focus on two modern-day descendants of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Set at a failing fireworks stand in Lewiston, Idaho, and across the river at a big box store in Clarkston, Washington, the plays LEWISTON and CLARKSTON share the essential question: what is the true legacy of the great American push West?

LEWISTON is a play fundamentally about the past. An aging descendant of Meriwether Lewis has been selling off her family's land piece by piece for years, becoming increasingly convinced that her family's past is less of a legacy and more of a curse. But when an unexpected visitor blasts into her life, she is forced to consider if there is anything good left in the world at all.

CLARKSTON is a play fundamentally about the future. A young descendant of William Clark has made the journey out west from his home in Connecticut, desperate to find meaning in his own history. But when he finds a landscape dotted with small, struggling towns and big box stores, his faith in his future-and indeed the future of the entire country-starts to feel misplaced.

Let's see what the critics are saying...

Jesse Green, The New York Times: There are many such pointers in each play toward the other: Marnie and Jake both pitch tents - Jake badly; both plays include scenes that take place, somewhat baldly, on the Fourth of July. Unemployment, the closet and drug addiction are afflictions in common.

But "Clarkston" is the richer drama, with themes that are more tightly bound to characters and a plot both surprising and inevitable. Its perfect ending - for the first time using the space that was once Rattlestick's stage platform - feels like a kind of apotheosis, or at least a small reward. Indeed, Mr. Hunter's golden diptych, no less than Mr. McCallum's spectacularly unspectacular production, suggests that small rewards may be the only kind available.

Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter: Davis McCallum's superb staging makes excellent use of the versatile space, with Dane Laffrey's minimal but evocative set designs efficiently shifting the theater's configuration among the two plays and dining interlude. By the evening's end, you'll have a palpable sense of having shared something special with your fellow theatergoers.

Tarpley Hitt, The Daily Beast: Both Lewiston and Clarkston are tight, observant vignettes that realize swatches of modern-day life with devastating, but often hilarious, accuracy. The production only loses ground when it tries to parlay those portraits into something larger than they are. Even a perfectly precise sketch, when spread too thin, makes a crude map.

Elysa Garner, New York Stage Review: But Hunter's characters have limited resources to turn to for affirmation and grace, and like others in Lewiston/Clarkston, Jake and Chris manage to find them in each other. There are the natural resources as well, the play reminds us, plundered and commodified over centuries but still there, their resilience staggering and inspiring us. Both parts of the play end with characters staring out at the river, finding comfort amid fresh recollections of loss. Leave it to Hunter, right at this moment, to find something beautiful beyond dispute that unites us as Americans, and as all people living here.

Steven Suskin, New York Stage Review: Lewiston/Clarkston is not your typical theatrical evening, and Rattlestick has contrived something we are unlikely to see anywhere. Thanks to the excellence of the writing and all these fine performances, it offers a thoroughly special evening of theater.

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