To say Upshot is one cool piece of theatre would be accurate, but that statement alone would not do it justice. Ami Dayan’s play is highly entertaining and full of dark humor. A writer with a troubled marriage sits down to write a play based on the last man left standing after a nuclear war — how is he to know his character will try to take over the storytelling?
John (Scott Graham), our writer, is having a few problems at home. Helen (Adrienne Nelson), his wife, brings home the paycheck to allow John the opportunity to write. They have all the normal, everyday marital problems that other couples face: patience, jealousy, money and child care to name a few. Except now John has a new problem. The character John has created for his play about the last living human being on Earth has decided to share his own input on the play! John is aiming for humor — “Man” (Jason Lott) wants something a bit more dramatic and wants a woman as well! Not content with Russian roulette using a fully loaded gun, he wants to create his own destiny. What comes next is interesting commentary on creation and what happens when creation gets in the creators way.
Jason Lott’s portrayal of “Man” is fantastic. The opening dialog telling his story as the last human left alive is eerie and his revelation that everyone died, “even you,” left a knot in my throat. Scott Graham (John) pulls together all the neurotic anxiety he can muster to bring forth just the angle that his character begs for. Adrienne Nelson’s Helen is as stable as John is flighty — grounded, smart and self confident, she is John’s polar opposite. The chemistry the performers share is a critical reason this production works. Shirley Serotsky’s direction allows the pure imagination of the play to be the focal point. She has described the play as “aggressively theatrical” and that it is.
The video footage displayed on a huge metallic wall and a broad soundscape by Kenneth Gilbert paint a futuristic, industrial canvas that is perfect for David Chatan’s scenic design. Unique ideas and presentation make Upstart a production you should include in your fall theatre plans. Forum’s production is innovative theatre asking pointed questions about creation and the creator — walking out of the theatre chuckling about it is the best part.
September 23-October 16, 2005 Thursday-Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 2pm. Church Street Theater at 1742 Church Street, NW, Washington, D.C. TICKETS: Tickets for Friday and Saturday evenings are $18 for general admission; $15 for student/senior patrons. Tickets for Thursday evening, Saturday and Sunday matinee shows are $15 for general admission; $12 for student/senior patrons. Group discounts available. Tickets are available at www.forumtheatredance.org, by calling 202-518-9516 and the door.