Regional Reviews: Philadelphia
Also see Rebecca's review of Snow White
Guare has reworked the plays extensively for this production and when EgoPo premieres the marathon presentations of all three parts, it will be a theatrical experience 30 years in the making. There are spoilers ahead so if you are considering seeing the marathon suffice it to say I think this is going to be Philadelphia's theatrical event of the seasona unique and moving experience that is not to be missed.
Madaket Road picks up several years and harrowing incidents after Aipotu leaves off. Little Lydie, Beatty, and Joshua are still living in the old house, but Nantucket is sinking around them and all is not well inside. A budding political campaign and some old scores that need settling bring a few more of the erstwhile utopia's residents back to the island. The ghosts of the past watch carefully while the living struggle between the urge for revenge and the need for forgiveness.
Throughout the trilogy Guare writes female characters that are original and fascinating. In this third installment we get house servant Beatty (the mesmerizing Hannah Gold) and Lydie's oldest daughter Gussie (Kristie Ecke is a bolt of lightening on the stage). Though the impressive pair barely interact, their characters are revealing foils: Beatty with her repression and mysticism bordering on madness and liberated Gussie whose practicality is almost as shocking. Other standout performances come from Kylie Westerbeck as dramatic Little Lydie, Grant Struble as mysterious Jeremiah, and Dane Eissler as cheerful Christian Scientist Jude. Joshua (the very talented Charlie DelMarcelle) is as inscrutably bitter as ever and a shade or two bleaker after his time in prison.
The new music by music director Jay Ansill and composer Cynthia Hopkins is subtly unsettling. Strange chords and odd lyrics are dropped into period tunes at the start and the score adds an ominous sheen to the entire production. Mike Inwood's lighting designs are excellent and Marketa Fantova's deceptively simple set is the perfect canvas for director Lane Savadove.
Given the strengths of the production in general and Guare's particular skill with female characters, it is almost heartbreaking that the play's most serious flaw is in how its resolution deals with Little Lydie Breeze. It is clear throughout that Lydie is still quite young and a bit of a drama queen, but the adversity she has facedat the hands of her mother, father, Beatty, and even her sisteris real. Yet in a play that is very much about struggling through adversity to meaningful resolution (either through death or forgiveness) Little Lydie experiences no meaningful growth or resolution. Yes, it seems that she will be happy, but only because of the men in her life who are suddenly interested in teaching and befriending her. Near the end the perspective shifts, Joshua becomes the central protagonist, and it is suddenly as though Little Lydie is a tabula rasa whom he is now free to write upon. That is no fate for the daughter of a cannibal queen and an unsatisfying ending to such a remarkable work.
Consecutive cycles of all three plays in the Lydie Breeze trilogy will run in two marathon formats through May 6, 2018, at the Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N. American Street, Philadelphia PA. Tickets and information can be found at www.egopo.org. Three-Day Marathons run Wednesday April 25, Thursday April 26, Friday April 27 at 7pm; and Wednesday May 2, Thursday May 3, Friday May 4 at 7pm. Audiences can also see the trilogy in Single-Day Marathons, on Saturday, April 28; Sunday, April 29; Saturday, May 5; and Sunday, May 6. The performances for the Single-Day Marathon run 1 pm-10 pm with two meal breaks.
The cast for Madaket Road includes Melanie Julian as Lydie Breeze and Charlie DelMarcelle as Joshua Hickman. The ensemble members in Part III are: Kristie Ecke, Dane Eissler, Victoria Goins, Hannah Gold, Shamus Hunter McCarty, Grant Struble, Jahzeer Terrell, Hannah Van Sciver, Kylie Westerbeck, and Philip Wilson.