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Review: THIS MUCH I KNOW at Aurora Theatre

Review: THIS MUCH I KNOW at Aurora Theatre

Jonathan Spector's This Much I Know

How refreshing to experience a thinking man's play that challenges, enlightens and delights. Not often you hear terms like 'confirmation bias' and 'false cognitive connections' in a marvelously crafted, satirical time-hopping story involving Stalinist Russia, neo-Nazi theory, and the aftereffects of an accidental killing. Spector's script is dense, provocative with touches of humor to balance the weight of his assumptions.

Review: THIS MUCH I KNOW at Aurora Theatre
Anna Ishida* and Rajesh Bose* in Jonathan Spector's This Much I Know.

Josh Costello, who previously directed Spector's 2018 vaccine dramedy Eureka Day, maximizes the confines of the Aurora stage with wonderful staging, minimal yet effective set design (Tanya Orellana) and lighting (Jeff Rowlings). Maxx Kurzunski adds some fun animated projections of a talking Stalin and the head of a neo-Nazi movement.

Three very talented actors play a multitude of characters, often switching seamlessly by the change in accent, the removal of a pair of glasses, or ridiculous gender-bending wigs. Rajesh Bose plays a philosophy professor Lukesh, extolling his students (the audience) about how we create our narratives, how we can be tricked into false beliefs, and challenging the coherence of our inherited constructs.

Review: THIS MUCH I KNOW at Aurora Theatre
Rajesh Bose* in Jonathan Spector's This Much I Know.

These notions play out in three interweaving plotlines, one involving the Lukesh and his wife Natalya, who after being involved in a tragic car accident travels to Russia to research her grandmother's involvement with Svetlana Alliluyeva, Stalin's daughter who defected to the West. Anna Ishida plays both the troubled Natalya and the strong Svetlana, who comes to challenge her father's legacy and her role in that history.

Kenny Toll has a juicy role as Harold, a grad student working on a thesis proving H.G. Wells' The Time Machine is a white man's call for homogeneity and not o benevolent rule. Professor Lukesh tries to challenge Harold's confirmation bias through opposing debate. Toll also plays many comic roles in post Stalinist Russia.

Review: THIS MUCH I KNOW at Aurora Theatre
Rajesh Bose* and Kenny Toll* in Jonathan Spector's This Much I Know.

The characters changes roles swiftly, assumptions challenged, and relationships changed. Spector, whose Eureka Day challenged to anti-vax, anti-science fake newsies, once again reveals how easily we can be conditioned. It a cautionary tale and an educational enlightenment that makes for intellectually stimulating and satisfying theatre.

This Much I Know runs through October 2nd, 2022. For single tickets ($20-$78) or subscriptions ($200-$385), the public can call (510) 843-4822 or visit www.auroratheatre.org.

Photo credit: Kevin Berne

Regional Awards


From This Author - Steve Murray

Steve Murray is a writer for Cabaret Scenes magazine, contributor to ForAllEvents and now BroadwayWorld. He started writing rock reviews for his college newspaper in the 1970’s, produced a va... (read more about this author)


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