Talented young playwright Raina Greifer sums up her own work Mesa, Arizona, or Something Like It. “It’s messy and surreal and strange, but so is so much of growing up,” she writes in her director’s note.
A young woman named Sam leaves her mentally deranged mother to hitchhike with her best friend to Arizona, where, after learning her mother has died in a flood, she attaches herself to an equally deranged landlady.
Dialogue is largely angst-filled poetical soliloquies heavily accompanied by a prominent ‘Chorus of Fates’.
First the positives. This is a tight and polished production. The energized chorus never flags nor stumbles over their copious lines. Leads Sophia Varnai, Jamie Griffith and Makenna Beam are fresh and appealing, especially Griffith who makes best friend Dot relatable.
A big shout out to Lighting Designer Emma Creekmore who skillfully creates mood and space in an awkward venue. As well, some evocative poetic imagery emerges from the flood of words that wash over the spartan stage.
Mesa, Arizona or Something Like It
closes July 29, 2018
Details and tickets
But, and there is a ‘but’, an unending stream of tortured angst can be a slog to those outside the head of a young adult. There is nary a pause, nor breath of fresh air, nor any action on stage to alleviate the dark, unending stream of consciousness that repeats themes of dust, dirt and decay.
The Greek Chorus can be overwhelming and its role is never clear. They are the Fates with their threads and scissors, but also meander into Harpies, Prophetesses and the voices inside Sam’s head. This is a play that cries out for focus and editing.
Another ‘but.’ Greifer and her colleagues are putting themselves out there, unapologetic and authentic to the experience of young adulthood and finding voice in theater. Let’s hope they keep experimenting.
Mesa, Arizona or Something Like It . Written and directed by Raina Greifer . Featuring: Sophia Varnai, Catherine Horowitz, Sophie Falvey, Makenna Beam, Anna Brookes . Presented at Capital Fringe Festival 2018 . Reviewed by Gayle Young.
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