Downstate: (Seen at the afternoon performance on 20th April 2019). Always
an inflammatory subject, and this new Bruce Norris play takes the easiest
option. First half, confrontation - from the public viewpoint. Second half,
confrontation - from the offenders' view. Resolution: system takes control (plus
cute, but unnecessary, police dog).
Unlike "The Nether" there is very little thought process about why and how it
may be dealt with. The discussion is in the now, and there's nothing new. A few
hints about actual offences and perhaps motivations, even an interesting
justification, but not really ground-breaking in itself.
Fortunately, the acting is first-class, and it is a delight to welcome the
Steppenwolf company members who work so brilliantly with our British talent.
Wheelchair-bound Fred (Francis Guinan) could be acting, or could really be the
friendly local piano teacher who preferred playing with his young male pupils.
Dee (K Todd Freeman) swings between barrack-room lawyer and social carer, via
musical theatre actor with an ease that makes him sympathetic if not likable.
Gio (Glenn Davis) makes maximum impact in a short time. His interaction with
Probation Officer Ivy (Cecilia Noble) a triumph of pacing from both actors.
Victim Andy (Tim Hopper) has to find motivation outside the confines of the
script, and almost overcomes the weakness of the play's resolution. Wife Em
(Matilda Ziegler) flounders with the writing but her commitment to her husband's
rehabilitation is clear. A note too for Effie (Aimee Lou Wood) all "civil rights
and attitude" hiding her under-preparedness for the world, a neat performance in
a small role, hinting at even more interesting character work to come.
The play tackles strong material with ideas that hold up in discussion, but
don't expand in any particular way. Still, for those willing to accept some
graphic descriptions of offences and some even more graphic denial, it rewards
Anna: Not available.
Jellyfish: Not available.
Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear - the Musical!: Not available.