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Review: IN HIS HANDS at Mosaic At Atlas Performing Arts Center

Review: IN HIS HANDS at Mosaic At Atlas Performing Arts Center

A world premiere by Mosaic Theater Co.

The world première of Benjamin Benne's In His Hands has opened at the Atlas Performing Arts Center while it's still Pride month. But this fine script's universal notions hold true from Jan. to December; the play is short (90 minutes), and it's nice to remember.

Inside Tony Cisek's spare but glorious set (it's a man cave, and it's an abstraction of a video game in progress; the lighting designer and scenic co-conspirator, William K. D'Eugenio, has figured out a way to allow visibility of the actors to avoid ever detracting from the flashing lights of the game; together, set and lights seem alive, beautiful, perfect), Daniel (Michael K. Mainwaring) and Chris (Josh Adams), who have met cute at work, really get to know and care for each other while playing a vintage version of Super Mario Bros. Both men have enough flaws inside and out to keep their game of love from every running as smoothly as they'd like or as predictably as the game they like to play. Chris' memory chip holds the pain of not just his father's inability to accept that his son is gay, but also the verbal drumbeat of the "de-programmer" who exacerbates the pain. Chris lets the internal suffering leak into his evolving relationship with Daniel. Daniel, a divinity school graduate, wants to serve as a pastor. And he lets how the job search is going leak into his evolving relationship with Chris.

But when Chris and Daniel play Mario Bros., they relax and listen and bond. And audiences, along for the ride, enjoy the fun of the game as well as the more meaningful growth of their friendship. The scenic elements create an enlargement for viewers of the usually modest ways in which people change from friends to lovers.

Benne's work as a poet in playwright's clothing includes absolute mastery of repetition: lists, the rustling of a hand in the receptionist's candy bowl, phrases such as "something I can never quite wrap my head around. . . ." José Carrasquillo's work as an orchestra conductor in director's clothing includes mastery of pace and timing and an absolute light touch because Adams and Mainwaring have mastered these characters. Sasha Olinick and Joe Mallon play Chris' father and tormentor, respectively--admirable performances of troubled, troubling people.

In His Hands' intimate moments are, well, intimate. The play fearlessly contains conversations about sexual choices made by adults during sexual activity; it's about time. Mosaic Theater calls the play "an interracial, interfaith, gay rom-com," and that's true. But it's both rougher and sweeter than that--more like the real world than the game it so vividly depicts.

Photo by Chris Banks

For tickets through July 17, info about Covid protocols, streaming, and open caption/ASL




From This Author - Mary Lincer


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