Review: THE LOWER DEPTHS at the Erickson Theater

A timely, must-see production.

By: Feb. 10, 2024
Review: THE LOWER DEPTHS at the Erickson Theater
Review: THE LOWER DEPTHS at the Erickson Theater
Amy Thone and Sharva Maynard in The Lower Depths
at the Erickson Theater. Photo Credit: Joe Moore

This weekend, Intiman Theatre and The Seagull Project opened their outstanding, heart-wrenching, and purposefully uncomfortable production of Maxim Gorky’s The Lower Depths. Housed at the Erickson Theater, the extremely cohesive 14-person cast takes the audience on a journey that is intertwined with effective social commentary and award-worthy performances.

Directly translated from Gorky’s 1902 play, Na dne, The Lower Depths introduces the audience to 14 lost souls living in poverty who are fighting to find their place in the world. Originally set in a Russian “grubby flophouse,” this production puts a timely and familiar twist on the text, placing the characters in Seattle. The show acts as a necessary social commentary on Seattle’s current affairs, providing a personal and in-depth look at the city’s housing crisis.

The play tells the story of an unimaginably difficult situation, one that many people in Seattle are experiencing right now. To tell such an important and apt story with poise, humor, and love is no easy task, and it’s clear that director Gavin Reub handled every single moment with the time and attention it deserved during the 18-month rehearsal process.

The show stars Kiki Abba (Natasha), Marco Adiak Voli (Pepel), Julie Briskman (Charlie), Rob Burgess (Dutch), Miguel Castellano (Satin), Jonelle Jordan (Vanessa King), Charles Leggett (Mickey King), Sharva Maynard (Anna), Tyler Polumsky (Chad), David Quicksall (Medford Bruin), Esther Okech (Dawn), Antonio Mitchell (The Baron), Alexandra Tavares (Actor), and Amy Thone (Luka).

Each member of this 14-person cast was excellent. The way they flowed together served as a masterclass in ensemble work. 

Review: THE LOWER DEPTHS at the Erickson Theater
Amy Thone, Antonio Mitchell, and Tyler Polumsky
in The Lower Depths at the Erickson Theater.
Photo Credit: Joe Moore 

In particular, Amy Thone’s portrayal of Luka was mesmerizing. In a world full of pessimism, she brought welcomed, as well as unwelcomed, unconditional optimism. It’s hard to shake Thone’s Luka out of your head, her ability to capture the calming yet unnerving character was a personal highlight of the show.  

Alexandra Tavares took us on the Actor’s journey of finding light in the darkest of times. There was a certain pull Tavares possessed that led the audience to her side, hoping and wishing she would be victorious in the end. 

Another standout performance came from Miguel Castellano as Satin. With a performance that only grew more intense and captivating throughout the show, it's easy to label him as a pillar in this production.

Scenic designer Jennifer Zeyl set the stage perfectly, allowing these actors to tell the story to its fullest potential. The same can be said for costume designer Katrina Hess, who found individuality for each character via their clothing, which for many, was all that they had. 

Lighting designer Ryan Dunn and sound designer Matt Starritt worked together to create the perfect landscape for this story, offering paramount pieces to the puzzle that is The Lower Depths.

The two-hour and forty-five-minute run time is not for the faint of heart. Immediately leaving the theater, I wondered if it needed to be that long. Upon reflection, I don’t think there was a single beat that could have been cut. It’s wildly impressive that this ensemble was able to keep the audience completely entranced for nearly three hours. This is a show you don’t want to miss.

The Lower Depths plays at the Erickson Theater from February 6 - 24. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit the button below.