BWW Reviews: FROM THE DEEP: Captivating New Play from Cassie M. Seinuk and Boston Public Works

BWW Reviews: FROM THE DEEP: Captivating New Play from Cassie M. Seinuk and Boston Public Works

From the Deep

Written by Cassie M. Seinuk, Directed by Lindsay Eagle; Stage Manager, Erin Baglole; Assistant Stage Manager, Samantha Layco; Dramaturg, Sara Bookin-Weiner; Assistant Director, Walker Allison; Scenic and Props, Megan Kinneen; Lighting, Chris Bocchiaro; Costumes, Stephanie Brownell; Sound, Mike Stanton; Fight Director, Rose Fieschko

CAST: Charles Linshaw, Jeff Marcus

Performances through March 28 by Boston Public Works Theater Company at Plaza Black Box, Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street, Boston, MA; Box Office 617-933-8600 or www.bostonpublicworks.org

Boston Public Works Theater Company, a playwrights' collective, presents its second production, the east coast premiere of From the Deep, Cassie M. Seinuk's award-winning play about two prisoners in existential captivity, inspired by the true story of Israeli POW Gilad Shalit and the countless college students who go missing for no apparent reason. Understanding that surviving captivity is an enormous mental challenge, Seinuk expands the boundaries beyond four walls to encompass every person's trials with fear, anxiety, and self-criticism, as well as to examine the power of connection in conquering those demons.

A white room filled with the sound of ticking clocks and only the varying angles of lighting to indicate passage of time is home to the two prisoners, Ilan (Charles Linshaw), a young Israeli soldier who has been held for five years, and Andrew (Jeff Marcus), a newly-arrived Boston University student whose story is less obvious. They share the space for the better part of two hours, whiling away the time getting to know each other, arguing, reading, writing, and playing ping pong and other games. On several occasions, one or the other leaves the set through a door to an unseen room, purportedly for interrogation or torture, but Seinuk leaves it mostly to our imagination. At all times, the tedium and the tension inherent in their situation are palpable and we are riveted to the unfolding drama.

Director Lindsay Eagle worked with the playwright in developing From the Deep and both actors have been involved since early readings, resulting in a production that feels more ready than many premieres. Linshaw swings easily back and forth within the many facets of his complex character, and Marcus finds the depth of Andrew's despair, peeling back the layers where it is hidden. Together, the ups and downs of the relationship they forge is authentic and their performances are heartfelt and compelling. Not much happens in the physical world of the story, but they convey the action in their interior worlds. In the Plaza Black Box, the close proximity of the seats to the set engages the audience on a very intimate level, leaving us to wonder about the ways in which we are all imprisoned.

Photo credit: Marc J. Franklin (Charles Linshaw, Jeff Marcus)

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