BWW Review: REYKJAVIK at Rorschach Theatre
You may be forgiven if the phrase "romantic getaway" doesn't immediately inspire images of Iceland and, though it features several couples, Steve Yockey's Reykjavik is unlikely to change your mind. What it will do is give a momentary, and at times uncomfortably intimate, glimpse into the relationships of these couples as paths intersect and unwind in the titular city. It is a haunting and disorienting ride you won't want to miss.
Produced by Rorschach Theatre, Reykjavik is the 84th Rolling World Premiere (RWP) from the National New Play Network. The play will be staged in five cities through 2018 and 2019; DC is the second production, after Atlanta's Actor's Express last fall. It also marks Rorschach's first production at the Silver Spring Black Box Theatre. Each company will produce their own vision of the play in collaboration with the playwright.
In keeping with Rorschach's commitment to "uncommon uses of environment", the audience becomes part of the production as we are separated into boarding groups and directed through a gate, then down a "jetway" complete with romantic promotional posters for IcelandAir. Seating is general admission and, thankfully, less of a free-for-all than on a Southwest flight. There's no preflight instruction, but you're going to want to buckle up for this one.
Reykjavik is composed of a series of scenes, interconnected in some way, though it is somewhat up to interpretation as to the degree. The set design by Eric Grims is stark and minimal; the staging making good use of the available space. The backdrop serves as a ready canvas for the projection designs of Kylos Brannon, which run the gamut from functional to breathtaking. Thomas Sowers' sound design strikes just the right mood, from the thumping beat of a sweaty nightclub or the ethereal stillness of a rock outcrop underneath the Northern Lights. Likewise, the lighting design of Katie McCreary gives a depth to each scene, especially in "Bittersweet (Part 1)". With a cast of six, each playing multiple roles, costume designer Sydney Moore deftly plays on the razor's edge between individuality and connectivity.
As James/Hank/Ebon, Josh Adams has perhaps the greatest emotional acrobatics of the entire cast. He moves between roles, and roles-within-roles, with an amazing fluidity and range. Dylan Arredondo (Martin/Ross/Robert) is the most relatable for the audience, bringing a sense of vulnerability and accessibility to each of his characters. Having workshopped the play at the Kennedy Center in 2017, Jenna Rossman (Naomi/Lil/Valerie/Ambiance Sister) delivers a nuanced performance that ties together this dark journey we've been on in its final moments. As Grigor/Leo/Aaron/Man in the Black Coat, Carlos Saldana shines, moving easily between very disparate characters, giving even the comic Leo a darker edge. Robert Bowen Smith (Peter/Mike/Davey) gives a tremendous performance, culminating in an emotional confrontation with Saldana late in the show. Dina Soltan rounds out the cast as Debbie/Lydia/Ingrid/Ambiance Sister, her seeming wide-eyed innocence hiding a more sinister truth just below the surface.
Making his Rorschach directorial debut is Rick Hammerly. Hammerly skillfully pulls dynamic performances from all of his actors, creating a magical fever dream for the audience. The culmination is not an explosion but an implosion of emotion, a quiet surrender of awe and love.
Rorschach Theatre's production of Reykjavik runs through March 3, 2019 at the Silver Spring Black Box. Run time is approximately 90 minutes with no intermission. Reykjavík is not recommended for audiences under 18. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit https://rorschachtheatre.com/reykjavik/