BWW Review: Mustard Seed Theatre's Dystopian But Hopeful REMNANT
After ten seasons, Mustard Seed Theatre returns to one of their first productions, and it's an intriguing work called REMNANT by Ron Reed. It's a window into a plague-ravaged future where civilization has been lost, and mistrust runs rampant. But, there are remnants from the past that keep hope alive, and one of them is a passed down tale of Christmas.And, while this may seem like an unusual holiday presentation, I actually appreciate that aspect. Besides, this is a show that's amusing, tense, joyful, and touching, and that covers most people's experience of the holidays in one way or another. The dialog is also quite interesting since it reflects the loss of many aspects of a culture's language, and so some words substitute for more familiar ones, and others are pronounced differently. But that aspect only adds to the atmosphere of the show, since their meaning is always clear. Whether you're looking for something a little different this season, or not, REMNANT is well worth your time and attention.
Set 75 years into the future, the story follows the Wilkin clan as they come together to celebrate what we here in the present view as a tradition, but which they regard as a new discovery; Christmas. One of the clan, known as Kristn Taler, carries with her stories of Jesus she has collected, and wishes to share them with an outsider, here referred to as a "loner."Her aim is to spread the word, and in doing so, perhaps bring some peace and understanding to the dangerous world they all live in. The tension mounts throughout as clan member Barlow Sho'r and the loner clash. But, something unexpected occurs that changes perceptions all around.
Ryan Lawson-Maeske takes it upon himself to maintain what order he can as Barlow Sho'r. He's passionate and protective, and deeply suspicious of the loner's motives. Marissa Grice, who keeps company with Barlow as Delmar Nu1, shows us a woman who's curious about the past, and willing to venture into areas of the outlands that are unsafe. Katy Keating is wildly enthusiastic as Annagail Bookr, Barlow's sister, who possesses a sort of sixth sense, and apparently lives in or near a library. Her recent find, Dickens' A Christmas Carol, has her channeling spirits like those in the book. Michelle Hand is excellent as Kristn Taler, bringing a true sense of grace to her performance, especially as she relates each tale. Her convictions leave her willing to sacrifice herself to save the loner's life when that possibility arises. Adam Flores does very nice work as the Loner, gradually revealing his character's more sensitive and reasonable nature, after making a more disruptive first impression.
Director Deanna Jent makes wonderful use of a strong cast, and also a fine technical crew, to bring this story to vivid life. Kristin Cassidy's set design is especially cool, utilizing the entire theatre space to house a dystopian warehouse filled with propmeister Meg Brinkley's wonderful artifacts. Michael Sullivan's lighting scheme mixes in candlelight to add to the mood, and Jane Sullivan's costumes cover a wide range of styles that reflect the foraging that would occur after civilization has collapsed, while also being good fits for each character.
Don't miss Mustard Seed Theatre's engrossing production of REMNANT, which continues through December 23, 2017.