It was raining. I was driving in D.C. And, I was heading to the dark and dreary theater known as The Shop. So far, not good. I was already frustrated and didn’t have much hope for this show could bring me out of it. Well, folks, it did. The Disappearance of Jonah is another must see in this year’s Fringe.
Searching for his brother who disappeared two years ago, Finn (Thomas Anawalt) travels around New York trying to discover something, anything that will give him a clue of Jonah’s disappearance. Staying with Jonah’s fiancé who may or may not be moving on with a well-known author, meeting Amy, a waitress/performance artist who makes him smile and is more involved in the story than he will ever know, and dealing with his panicked mother who has already lost one son in the big city, Finn discovers New York is not quite what he expected.
The synopsis of the play and the list of seven characters is a bit daunting given this is a small, hour-long production. One can’t help but be skeptical of how the whole story line and character development will come together. But it does. Playwright Darragh Martin worked magic with the dialogue. Director Sarah Wansley made the show come to life where the audience couldn’t help but be transported to the big city. (Credit, of course, is also due to the other talented crew members.) The actors deserve a round of applause as well, however there were some weaknesses which brought the rating down.
Given Aporia Repertory Company was founded at Columbia University by Columbia graduates and students, the cast are all college-age. Many, according to the well-produced program, have exceptional credits. However, awkward stage movements, hand placements and the occasional laugh due to a misstated line showed there is still learning to be done. It was raining, sirens were in full force and we were basically in a garage, so projection was needed. Many times, I strained to hear the dialogue and likely missed some key lines.
Regardless, these actors are talented. Jonah (Patrick Barrett) was the glue that held the play together. All eyes couldn’t help but be on him during his asides, which demonstrated he was a confused and overwhelmed individual. Maura McNamara was even more impressive as the fruit-dressing, coffee serving performance artist.
The Disappearance of Jonah is an excellent production which does everything but disappear in the lineup of this year’s Fringe.