Thursday, September 16, 2010

Theater Review - THE REVIVAL

Project Y Theatre Company
Written by Samuel Brett Williams
Directed by Michole Biancosino

The Revival is definitely inspires thought about religious extremism. Set in Hot Springs, Arkansas, the play examines the turbulent inner turmoil and contradictions of a Harvard-educated son of a Southern Baptist preacher who returns to his Arkansas hometown to rebuild his father's congregation.

All the acting was top-notch. Raymond McAnally as Trevor, the church financial advisor, fluctates between being a “good old boy” and a shrewd businessman. Aidan Sullivan excels as the put-upon wife who out of jealousy and insecurity reveals her own dark side. David Darrow as Daniel, the violent down-and-out boy who is the catalyst for all the trouble. Surprisingly, the mixed bag for me was Trent Dawson as the main character of Brother Eli. Technically, he was excellent with great line delivery and comic timing, but there could have been a tad more emotional depth in his performance...particularly near the end of the play.

Another weakness was the relationship between Brother Eli and Daniel. While the chemistry between the two men should have been explosive enough to justify all future risk and damage to Eli and his family, these characters came together too conveniently with no sense of the strong attraction alluded to in the dialogue. This passion is necessary in order to explain all the ugliness that comes out of the four characters in the end.

The set of the wooden church had a gothic feel, complete with a large cross hanging in front of a choir who occasionally sings before and during the show. The theater space and church blend together well during the sermon scenes when planted actors in the audience speak up as members of the congregation. All the spectacle needed to create a successful “megachurch” was beautifully evoked.

With a disturbing violent conclusion, the extremes that the characters went to in order to maintain the spiritual status quo created tragedy and horror, evoking memories of other such dramas as The Crucible and The Wicker Man. All in all, I give it four out of five stars.

Click on the link for more info about the play.

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