BWW Review: Full Spectrum Shows Us the True Meaning of 'All-American'
The Full Spectrum Theatre Company, founded by its artistic director Suzie Cho and associate artistic director Ashley Ford, is dedicated to telling "All-American" stories with diverse casts. David Lindsay-Abaire's Rabbit Hole, which tackles universals such as family and grief, was a fitting choice for the company's inaugural production.
Featuring Cho and South Asian actor, Amar Srivastava, as the story's central couple Becca and Howie, the players depicted the complications of the "average" and imperfect American family in a way that was refreshing and rarely seen in the theatre or film worlds.
The dynamic between Cho and supporting actress, Ashley Ford, was particularly strong. The self-controlled and responsible Becca and her impulsive sister Izzy were already written to be complementary characters, at times seeming to be at completely opposite ends of the personality spectrum. Depicted by Cho and Ford, we see their differences embodied literally by their very dissimilar physical appearances. However, this was not a point of distraction thanks to compelling performances from both actresses.
There were a few idiosyncrasies that of course are unavoidable when diverse players are following a script, originally written for a monochromatic cast, to the letter. However these blips were minuscule, skillfully obscured by the talented cast.
When asked about the company, Councilwoman Rosie Mendez said: "Several years ago, the NYC Council created a Theaters of Color Initiative to provide funding for existing and established theater companies. Unfortunately, the fledging Full Spectrum Theatre Company doesn't qualify yet for city funding. After meeting with Suzie and Ashley, I wanted to support these young women in their endeavor to diversify the theater at all levels from production to performance. After seeing Rabbit Hole, I look forward to them establishing themselves as a diverse premiere theatre company."
Overall I found Rabbit Hole by the Full Spectrum Theatre to be a triumph in forwarding true diversity instead of the tokenism and pigeon-holed roles which are so often assigned to actors of color. One can only hope that more varied roles (and more roles in general) for actors of color is a trend that will catch on in more mainstream performing arts circles.
Photo Credit: Virginia Carey