BWW Review: MAP Theatre Releases the Beast with TREVOR
When the basis of your play, such as Nick Jones' "Trevor" currently being offered from MAP Theatre, is a real-life story, the gist of which could probably fill up a report on the news and was probably germinated from there, the journey to get to that inevitable conclusion is everything. And while some of the dialog in Jones' journey tended to meander a bit, the journey the MAP Theatre performers took us on with their performances made us really care for these characters and root for their success even as we could see the oncoming train barreling down on them. And it's that caring, that empathy that keeps us with them and watching even though we want to look away from what we know is coming, heartbreak.
Now, one of the characters I'm referring to that we care so much about is a chimp but that shouldn't make us care any less. Trevor (Brandon Ryan) is a chimpanzee that has been raised since he was a baby by Sandra (Teri J. Lazzara). And Trevor, in his youth, had some minor successes on television including his big break in a show with Morgan Fairchild. But now that he's older, the parts aren't coming in for him, not like they do for his friend Oliver (Jesse Calixto). But Trevor still longs for the spotlight and without that outlet he begins to act out more and more making the new neighbor Ashley (Zenaida Smith) and the local cop Jim (Michael D. Blum) more and more nervous. But Sandra keeps Trevor in control, for the most part, until things come to a head when Jerry (Danielle Daggerty) from animal control shows up to check out the situation.
What makes the journey truly work is the dichotomy of worlds. Sandra can only communicate a few words to Trevor through repetition or sign language, but we can hear everything Trevor is saying. He's speaking chimpanzee, but we hear English and get to understand his lack of understanding of what's really happening around him. Director Julie Beckman keeps the flow of the piece going beautifully so the stakes keep getting amped up in both worlds. Both Sandra's desperate need to keep Trevor and Trevor's desperate need to get to work with Morgan Fairchild again. And Robin Macartney's perfectly appointed set in this intimate space makes for an exquisite jungle for Trevor to romp through.
The ensemble of the piece is quite tight and present in this world and everyone shows off their clearest of intentions. Daggerty just wants what's best for the animal, Blum wants what's best for his friends, Calixto wants to show up his friend, and Smith wants to keep her daughter safe when she's not pulling off a hilarious Morgan Fairchild impression. But the stand outs of the piece are, of course, Lazzara and Ryan. You can practically feel the desperate love coming off Lazzara that she has for this member of her family. This is her child, not her pet, and that comes across making her final decisions all the more heartbreaking. Ryan inhabits the mannerisms and psyche of the chimp with astounding clarity. He doesn't put on a chimp impression (except in the one moment where he's mocking said impressions), he becomes the being of Trevor who has chimp-like traits, making his performance both delightful and ultimately terrifying.
MAP Theatre has once again taken the oddest of plays and shown the heart of the story. And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give MAP Theatre's production of "Trevor" an "edge of my seat in their final scenes" YAY. But MAP seems to be on an odd animal kick. Their last play was about a rooster, this one's about a chimp, I can only assume the next will be about an elephant.
"Trevor" from MAP Theatre performs at 18th and Union through March 30th. As always, their ticketing model is name-your-own-price. For tickets or information visit them online at www.map-theatre.com.