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BWW Review: VINCENT RIVER at Richmond Triangle Players

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A harrowing, substance-fueled confessional

BWW Review: VINCENT RIVER at Richmond Triangle Players "Vincent River" is not a place, but a person. Philip Ridley's 2000 play, which takes place (and premiered) in London, brings us two troubled characters: Anita, Vincent's 53-year-old mother, and 16-year-old Davey, who discovered Vincent's remains after he was beaten to death in an abandoned rail station.

These two characters meet in Anita's new flat after she's moved from the one where she and 33-year-old Vincent lived. It's a rundown place, leaky and dirty in director/scenic scenic designer Vinnie Gonzalez's rendering. Anita invites Davey in because she's seen him following her for months. What follows is a 100-minute, intermission-less exposition of what brought the two characters to this meeting.

For roughly the first half of the play we see the interaction between Anita and Davey as they slowly reveal information about themselves: Anita is a seamstress; she had Vincent on her own after her married boyfriend left her. Davey is a student, son of West Indian immigrants, already engaged to a girl his age.

Jill Bari Steinberg fully inhabits Anita. A master of accents (Erica Hughes is the dialogue designer), Steinberg makes Anita stunningly real and present. We can see the sexual adventurer she's been; we can see the loving mother she was. Keaton Hillman, though, has a bigger challenge--he's supposed to be 16, and he's supposed to deliver big time during the second half of the show, which is a very long monologue in which he reveals how he discovered Vincent's corpse. Hillman tries hard, but ironically his assured physical presence and maturity work against him. The character makes less sense as a self-possessed twentysomething man; he should be a vulnerable kid.

Margarette Joyner's costumes express the characters well, and Austin Harber's lighting works admirably. Candace Hudert's subtle sound design is effective, and Gonzalez's set is impressive in its squalor, using the depth of Triangle Players' stage to good advantage.

To move the action, the script uses perhaps the tiredest dramatic device there is--the characters get increasingly intoxicated so they'll reveal the painful things we need to know. "You want to get him out of your head, you said," says Anita. "You got to make him real to do that." The way to do that, it seems, is to talk about Vincent. First the pills Davey brought with him and then the gin Anita provides fail to loosen the boy's tongue, but then he takes out a joint and smokes it--and suddenly you can't shut him up.

The story is heartbreaking, of course, and it's disturbing to hear; no wonder Davey's a mess. Gonzalez's direction (with the aid of intimacy director Raja Benz) emphasizes both characters' emotions as the excruciating story comes out, but the pace is slow. "We talk and talk," says Davey. Indeed.

At: Richmond Triangle Players, 1300 Altamont Ave.

Through: October 10

Tickets: $30-$35 (students $10)

Info: rtriangle.org or (804) 346-8113

Photo credit: John MacLellan


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