It has taken me a long time to decide on how to write this review. This play seems ecclectic and irreverent, but something is brilliant over the surface. Over time, art changes. The Shakespeare of today is hardly recognizable from the Shakespeare of his time. What he considered crass jokes and throw away lines that he wrote in a hurry for money we now study in a classroom for our doctorates. In the same way, Anne Washburn really hits on what would happen if our modern day society stopped in an apocolypse and what stories would we tell from that point onward. When the play ends, 75 or so years after the first act after the apocolypse, the music and stories told regarding lost television and musical history are far different than what was actually real. Over and over, the characters remind each other of the bits and pieces they recall, hobbling together a show and buying lines from others. At the end, they create something that is so different than what was the original product that we would see on our television screens at the beginning. It is a written testimony of how storytelling and history changes perception, and how what was inane and simple could be misconstrued to be revered or holy.
It is absolutely insane to try and explain or summarize it. The Unicorn’s dramaturg did a brilliant job.
Please visit unicorn.org for ticket information.
This production is co-created with UMKC and it is absolutely well-done from the set to the costumes to the acting. The start, however, is Manon Halliburton. She gave a chilling monologue delivery at the beginning that set the tone and description of the entire apolocolpyse. If she didn’t do her job on point, the entire first act would have been off kilter. She absolutely nailed it. I would highly recommend any aspiring actors watch her from start to finish with her physicality and her voice control – she is a force. Matthew King’s over the top humor in the second act was a surprise. He over-played in just the right areas. As a team, the entire ensemble had to ebb and flow between multiple changes, both in character growth, while almost playing themselves as a morality play. This is extremely difficult and demanding work. They did an outstanding job.
Word of warning, the Simpsons music will be in your head for a week afterwards.