Outwit, Outlast & Outpray!
"The Red Box," a world premier by new playwright Jason Mitchell, which opened last night at the Walker Space demonstrates that in theater, elegance and succinctness are not always the key to honest significance, but rather a disturbed air of disruption can be the means by which all ebbs flow. If only the fluidity of the piece were as strong as the characterizations and thought behind the evenings passionate persona's then "The Red Box" could be a triumphant freshman outing for Mitchell. What elevates the productions obvious flaws is its brilliant cast - with fresh faces and veterans alike the actors, lead by marvel Jonathan Monk, turn an already thought provoking evening into a sentimental journey of shocking survival.
As events unfold, Victor (Monk), encounters an all encompassing love in the arms of another man, Martin (Ryan Andes). With any relationship, the honeymoon almost never lasts, especially when Victor is a Jew and Martin a Nazi during the Holocaust. "Box" is ultimately Victor's story, told through flashbacks by an elderly Victor (Lawrence Merritt). Although the dialogue of the retelling at times can be youthfully sophomoric, the passion and drive for Victor's will to survive always keeps the audience wanting more, just maybe not in so many details.
But here the details are in the performances given by both young and old Victor. Monk and Merritt turn in amazingly natural performances that in incapable hands could be over the top torment. But, especially with Monk's younger tour de force interpretation of Victor, one can understand how the Holocaust not only affects a youthful naïve Jewish boy, but a gay one at that.
"The Red Box" certainly vibrates with the weight of its many themes. And after a few nips and tucks, the reverberations could be anxiously appealing. If any theatre company was looking to fill a slot with a sentimental journey of powerful accord and could take time to cultivate a talented new playwright, then take a trip to