BWW Review: DIKE at Urbanite Theatre
The girls are at the helm of Urbanite's current production of Dike. The cast is comprised of four strong female leads, Jen Diaz (Charlotte), Alice Marcondes (Rachel), Morgan Meadows (Marion), and Kelly Pekar (Kristen). The play is written by Hannah Benitez, the director is Tatiana Pandiani, assistant to the producer is Megan Ianero, with sound design by Rachel Harrison, one of the co-artistic directors is Summer Dawn Wallace, the stage manager is Amanda Laforge, the costumer designer is Alison Gensmer, and one of the master electricians is Tara Foster. I have to give credit where credit is due. Girls - you rock!
A timely piece of reality, relevance and raw emotion comes to life in Dike, Urbanite's latest staging. We join Kristen and her girlfriend Charlotte in Dublin, Ireland where Kristen's younger sister Rachel is finishing her studies abroad. After two years of separation these once-close siblings have a lot to catch up on. Kristen, at the age of 30, has come out, and has brought along her girlfriend Charlotte for a stay at Rachel's apartment. Kristen is of course concerned how her sister feels about her coming out in light of their very strict Catholic upbringing. This will be the first time they will be able to talk about it face to face. Kristen is experiencing a love and freedom she has never felt before. It's all so new and exciting and full of wonder. Her girlfriend Charlotte is very laid back about her sexuality. She is confident and comfortable with whom she is, very supportive of Kristen, and wants to make Rachel feel at ease. Rachel on the other hand hasn't strayed that far from the religious beliefs that they held back in Indiana but loves her sister, and has some news of her own to share. Rachel's classmate and confidant, Marion adds to the diversity of these characters whose lives are intertwined with undertones of various rays of affection for and between each other.
Some of the sexual situations played out, although done in good taste, can be a bit uncomfortable for some to watch, as are some of the poignant conversations and heated arguments that arise. Like real life, this play takes us to a place where we meet uncomfortable situations. Scenarios come up that sway us back and forth into thinking perhaps Rachel is also gay. But maybe not. However could she be fighting how she truly feels about Marion? After all she abruptly left her boyfriend in Indiana, who everyone thought she would marry. And did we feel Charlotte was making a pass at Rachel during their private breakfast? Perhaps she was just being nice over making her Dominican heritage recipe for fried plantains. But Rachel did reciprocate with French press coffee. And what about Marion's feelings for Rachel? This may sound a bit soap opera-ish and full of drama, but this play was so well written, acted and directed that it seemed like real life unfolding in front of you - with a lot of lessons to teach, on so many levels.
The stellar cast was brilliant in each of their roles and magnificent as an ensemble, delivering quick paced dialogue and exuding chemistry. Miss Pekar as Kristen was moving and intense as the older sister wanting for acceptance. Miss Marcondes embodied the sweet and innocent Rachel, who stays true to her convictions, and holds in so much, that we think she might burst. Miss Diaz plays Charlotte with confident pizazz that adds a spark of levity to this very intense storyline. Miss Meadows portrayed Marion as the playful Irish version of Charlotte's laid-back attitude. She also added lightheartedness to this play and rounded off Rachel's character with her sweet, living life to its fullest, disposition. Each actress fully understood their characters and came prepared to give us four very distinct personalities in a way for us to understand and befriend them.
Playwright Hannah Benitez developed exceptional characters and gave them impassioned dialogue to carry this production. She carefully dealt with a subject matter that opens doors, opens conversations and hopefully opens hearts. Director Tatiana Pandiani gave her cast the freedom to breathe life into their roles and drew out their chemistry, which was so profound from the beginning of the play.
Once again Urbanite delivers on their promise to bring distinctive, fresh works to their stage. Dike runs through December 16, 2018. For more information visit www.urbanitetheatre.com.