BWW Review: HANG - A Modern Apologue
HANG by Debbie Tucker Green is a thoroughly modern play. Using only three actors, a bare bones set and lasting only 90 minutes, HANG uses clever dialogue to pull the audience in and twists the mind brilliantly. Currently showing at Ground Floor Theatre the play, that debuted in 2015, boasts an unequaled cast and crew that shatters the audience's perception with an unforeseen plot twist. Producer/Director Chuck Ney and his new production company, Horizon Line Theatre, have chosen the perfect show to make their first foray into the Austin theatre scene. Witty, articulate and provocative, HANG holds the audience in rapt attention, our heads spinning for the duration.
If you are familiar with popular British anthology series Black Mirror or Inside No.9, you will find a similar style in Green's play. The show begins in a perfectly generic office space with two perfectly generic public servants, One (Barbara Chilsholm) and Two (Robert Faires) preparing for the arrival of a member of the public, Three (Nadine Mozin). When she arrives, we see that the oh so pleasant surroundings are a buffer for something much deeper and darker, something unspeakable. The clearly disturbed Three has arrived to make a decision, what that choice is and why it must be made are subjects that are danced around by some of the best written dialogue I've heard in a theatre in a good long while. One and Two bumble their way through a series of meaningless social gestures that are intended to comfort Three and make her feel at ease, but only serve to heighten the tension while giving us the blackest of comic relief. I will not go any further in the play synopsis for fear of spoilers. This is a show that must be experienced.
Chuck Ney's direction is flawless, his blocking and pacing, inspired. Some directors would attempt to move actors around frantically, but Ney keeps the movement understated, using it only when necessary. The effect is as fascinating as it is chilling. Michelle Ney's costume and set design are perfection. Her use of a gray tonal palate is reflected in every aspect of the production. The statement made by the shades of gray are only evident when the play reaches its conclusion, it's impact is purposeful and clear. Cheri DeVol's lighting design is inspired. Her use of stage fluorescents gives the generic office the perfect cold look. If you're looking for top notch actors in Austin, look no further than Barbara Chisholm and Robert Faires. They play off each other beautifully and make the most of every moment on stage. As Three, Nadine Mozin amazing. Her eyes speak volumes even when she doesn't have a word to say. Emotions bubble just below the surface and threaten to break through at any moment. The entire package is powerful, moving and will leave you thinking about the play long after you leave the theatre. I give my highest recommendation to Horizon Line's HANG, go, you won't regret it. I, for one, await with great anticipation to see what the new company will bring to the stage next.
Horizon Line Theatre at Ground Floor Theatre
October 3 - 19
Running Time: 90 minutes with no intermission
Tickets: $20 - $25 groundfloortheatre.buyplaytix.com