by Eric Ulloa
Directed by Belinda Boyd
Presented at The Rep
The new outlet for America’s internal grief is Devised Theater. That’s a partially improved script created by a collative cadre of artists. Tonight, we explore The Sandy Hook shootings in Newtown, CT. The details are all too familiar; a man with mental problems walked into a rural grade school and killed most of the first-grade class. As we begin this story, we hear from the cast all the wonderful aspects of this small town, pre-murder. No crime, everyone knows each other, and a sense of community and shared destiny not so common anymore. The stories stop abruptly, and we hear the disaster unfold as did the locals: fragments of information, false leads, and a growing sense of panic. As we learn about the event, the press streams in, terrorizing the town almost as badly as the shooting itself. In the end, the children and their teachers remain dead, the story drifts from the public eye, and all that remains is a traumatized town and a loss of shared innocence. That, and 63,700 stuffed bears sent by sympathetic outsiders who could do nothing more effective.
With each actor building a dozen characters, its only fair to rank this on the ensemble performance, as no one actor could be better than any other. Brittany Caine is a mother and narrator, Daniel Romero plays the priest and a line man, Andy Hansen a Rabbi. Courtney Yakabuski reads auras, Megan Murphy is the outsider from Australia who has blended in, and Aradhana Tiwari played the school principal. The show has a good build; even as you know what’s coming the shots are a shock, the chaos palpable, and the press vultures chasing locals with cell phone camera lights effective. We’d like to see this violence end, but it’s not clear how in today’s environment. But this play brings the shooting down from a distant abstraction to real people with real emotions evolving in real time.
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