BWW Review: BALLAST at the Source Festival
Issues, relationships and rights for the LGBTQ community have been a topic of increasing importance in American culture, to say the least. It is even more poignant considering four days before I sat to see the Source Festival's production of BALLAST by Georgette Kelly, the largest mass shooting in United States history took place at a gay night club. Although tragic, it only proves Kelly's choice in story was and is important to discuss.
Zoe (Dallas Milholland) and Grace (Jen Rabbitt Ring) are navigating their marriage as Grace has recently transitioned from male to female. They are both searching for a community to accept them. In contrast, 16-year-old Savannah (Chelsea Thaler) and her first love, Xavier (Tyasia Velines), are dealing with Xavier's transition as well, but in a way that seems to come to them with ease.
Although the writing at times seemed a bit corny, the play, which was well-acted and well-directed (by Margot Manburg), at its heart was a story of transition that looked at all sides of the issue. Kelly did a good job finding the balance of portraying the struggle of the trans community, while also pointing out it isn't easy for their significant others either. Manburg, by choosing a space like the Source Festival was clearly able to experiment. A perfect place to workshop a play. Although the set was simple, some of the more dreamy concepts could have been risky if executed in another theater.
The cast did a great job of finding their space. Milholland, Ring, Thaler and Velines clearly did their background research to play these parts with truth and justice. The actors, Reginald Richard, Crystal Swann and Sarah Holt all had to play more than one character. Yet, whenever they were onstage they made it that of their character's and made those differences clear.
It is plays like BALLAST, even with its faults, that make theater so important. With film and television there is always a significant time lag between production and presentation. Theater doesn't have to have that. The process can follow each other more closely. Although, this play will continue in relevance for quite some time, there is also no better time than the present.
For tickets visit http://www.sourcefestival.org/. Run time is about an hour and 40 minutes without an intermission.