It would seem that the worst possible outcome in any crisis would be the loss of a life.  However near death experiences yield their own set of surprising complications, both physical and emotional.  In his new play Shock/Trauma, playwright Evan Crump explores the dark side not of death, but of survival, as a couple struggles to cope after tragedy.When Anna Parker (Julie Roundtree) and her boyfriend Marc Radford (Evan Crump) are involved in a serious car wreck, Marc emerges from the crash unscathed while Anna’s injuries prompt doctors to put her into a medically induced coma.  When she finally regains consciousness, Anna is forced to face the severity of her injuries as are her family and friends.  The task proves daunting and yields some unexpected side effects – depression, anxiety, detachment, guilt, not only from Anna but also from Marc who was driving the car when it crashed.  Together the couple struggles to coexist, assigning and reassigning blame, grasping at straws for resolution. Though the answers don’t come easily, eventually they do come.

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In Crump’s play there are no clear heroes or enemies, lending further authenticity to a story which suggests that there is neither a “normal” nor a “proper” way to grieve.  Rather each character is allowed their own spiritual and psychological journey toward closure without judgment.  This is perhaps the story’s greatest asset, its acutely realistic depiction of post-traumatic stress disorder.

However, Director Tom Prewitt does make one or two peculiar stylistic choices.  Screening actual footage of the Superbowl and later a Netflix movie while the characters deliver important dialogue is problematic.  The audience is forced to resist the temptation of watching the projection and not the actors. For example, while Anna and roommate Travis Gibb (Gil Hasty) discuss Marc’s guarded demeanor, on screen, a giant werewolf zombie chases a woman through the night behind them.  The movie is distracting even if hilarious.  Nonetheless, the overall pacing of the play is fluid and the actors transition between scenes with well-choreographed precision.

As for the cast, Julie Roundtree and Evan Crump have the stamina to carry this play and all its emotional complexity. Roundtree does Anna justice, portraying her as vulnerable and frenetic as well as determined and resilient.  Likewise, Evan Crump allows Marc some humanity despite the character’s mostly undemonstrative nature. Supporting cast member Manolo Santalla’s gentle portrayal of Good Samaritan and the play’s moral compass, Eduardo Vega is memorable as well.  Gil Hasty, Jane Kalbfeld and M.R. Turner also deliver solid performances, adding a nice sense of balance and humor to a special play about ordinary human beings rising above harrowing circumstances.

Shock/Trauma has 5 performances, ending July 29, 2012, at Goethe Institut, 812 7th St NW, Washington, DC.
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  Veronica rates this 3 out of a possible 5.


This is a personal story. Author Evan Crump shares it with us here



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