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Review: THE ORIGINALIST Opens the Door to Dialogue at the Indiana Repertory Theatre

"The middle takes guts. The middle is where you go to sit down with monsters." The Indiana Repertory Theatre's current Upperstage production, The Originalist, explores that middle, introducing us to a fictional relationship between Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and a liberal law clerk. The play is about the absolutely essential nature of debate. Having the freedom to openly discuss political issues is something we often take for granted in our country as we get lost in the fight. We forget that the person you disagree with doesn't have to be the enemy.

The play features two incredibly charismatic leads. Henry Woronicz is Scalia, the conservative judge famous for his love of opera and passionate dissents. Woronicz revels in the role. He is combative and playful, even when the discussion is heated he doesn't lose his wry sense of humor. Ayanna Bria Bakari is his counterpart Cat, whose desire to better understand the other end of the political spectrum opens up a fascinating conversation.

James Still's direction highlights the dialogue beautifully. The actors are front and center, elaborate sets and special effects are striped away and their words are all that matters. Using only a rectangle of light and a few respirator noises the show creates a believable hospital room. Moments like that keep the show grounded, pulling the audience in even farther.

A play about a politically polarizing figure could have been so heavy-handed. Instead, it's delightful. The scenes are full of heart and humor and at the end your mind will be buzzing. Reaching across the aisle has never been more important. Our country has demonized the opposing sides and they each feel the gap is too wide to bridge. The play reminds us that "faith takes courage" and so does opening the door to a civil discussion with someone whom you disagree.

Don't Miss the Show

The Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, one-half block west of the Circle Center Mall between northbound Illinois St. and southbound Capitol Ave. "The Originalist" runs until Nov. 12 on IRT's Upperstage. It includes strong language, adult themes, and gunshot sounds. It is 1 hour 50 minutes, with no intermission. To purchase tickets or find performance times, call (317) 635-5252 or order online at www.irtlive.com.

Photos Courtesy of the Indiana Repertory Theatre



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From This Author - Melissa Hall

Melissa Hall has been reviewing live theater since 2006. She lives in Indianapolis and enjoys the city's thriving local arts scene. She is a member of the American Theatre C... (read more about this author)


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