BWW Review: DRY LAND at Capital T Theatre
Amy is a pregnant teen with no one to help her. She has a BFF (Reba), and yet she seeks help from high school swim team newcomer, Ester. Amy is too scared to trust anyone else, least of all an adult, and asks Ester to help her self-abort the pregnancy. A precarious situation, does Ester help Amy with such high stakes? It's a controversial topic to say the least and all politics and viewpoints aside, it's an all-too-common predicament in twenty-first century America.
Like all good plays, Dry Land is about the human condition and includes relationships, fear of the unknown, risks, and trust. It is obviously a somewhat dark play but a great deal of humor is found within the exploration of the choices the girls make and how they come to develop a common bond. These are teenagers are after all, children grappling with extremely adult decisions.
Capital T Theatre company has never shied away from the heavy-hitters and Dry Land is no exception. It is a gritty, raw and visceral in-your-face glimpse of what happens behind closed doors all over the world. Ruby Rae Spiegel is one hell of a good playwright and I hope she continues to write because the theatre needs to hear her voice. Furthermore, her plays need courageous companies like Capital T Theatre to produce them. All too many companies would be hesitant to produce a play as provocative as Dry Land.
Director/Costume Designer Cheryl Painter must be pleased as punch with the wealth of talent she has with which to work. With a team of artists this gifted, the choices are endless and the results make for an exciting night of theatre indeed. Painter's direction is precise, driven, and absolutely believable.
Multiple-award winning Scenic Designer Mark Pickell once again delivers an elaborate set that fits the challenging space limitations of Hyde Park Theatre perfectly. He could have built it further out, closer to the audience but I suspect the distance is intentional; It sets us apart from the action just a bit more and the effect is marvelous. Light Design from Patrick Anthony and Sound Design from Lowell Bartholomee enhance and round out the set and the action perfectly.
The acting here is absolutely sublime - Anikka Lekven's Amy is a typical teenager who finds herself suddenly, unwittingly thrust into adulthood with little to no transition. She is both awkward and brazen, shy and brave, young and... oh dear god - absolutely terrified! Amy hides her fears well, and what she doesn't do, (as far as we can see) is feel sorry for herself. Amy doesn't lament her condition, she plunges forward, and Lekven captures and internalizes that inherent desperation perfectly. Amara Johnson is enthralling as Ester, a star swimmer with no time for anything else in her life. It's a lonesome fate and Ester is ravenously hungry for human connection. Amy asks for her help and Ester jumps in with no hesitation save for the de rigor teenage angst. Lekven and Johnson are fascinating artists, extremely generous, gifted actors.
Preston Ruess gives a solid performance as potential boyfriend Victor and Lucy Abramowitz is delightful as the clueless Reba. Austin favorite Travis Dean plays the Janitor who doesn't have much to say (verbally) but his actions tell us he has seen this before and it is heartbreaking.
I highly recommend this brilliant play and encourage you to snag your tickets fast as seating is limited and the run is only through June 15th.