RAW: Modern American Masters – Early Worx – Higher Ground

By Julia Loipersberger

I’m not ordinarily a fan of short plays, and even less so when three entirely distinct performances are presented by the same actors without any interval (which suggests something about this reviewer’s attention span). However the trilogy performance of Modern American Masters contradicted my general prejudices.

The opening piece, David Mamet’s All Men are Whores was an interesting choice to start the evening off with. The 1977 play features a trio of university age characters – two males and a female – addressing the audience about various sexual experiences. At times, it is difficult to establish and somewhat confusing as to whether the actors are intended to represent only three people whose views on sexuality and desires change over time and with the impact of new connections with strangers, or whether the actors are simply many ‘everymen’ demonstrating short snippets of their sexual complications. Either way, the play becomes overly convoluted and eventually somewhat boring and pretentious. Nonetheless, it was well directed and competently acted by Amy Victoria Brooks, Jordan Fraser-Trumble and Charles Sanders.

The second piece, Medea Redux by Neil LaBute is a harrowing trip into the underside of love between a high school student and her English teacher, who pursues her desperately until she falls pregnant with his child and he suddenly disappears. As the title suggests, this play is an updated version of the Greek tragedy of Medea, and it is clear from the second that the only character is revealed on stage that everything is going to end poorly.  Amy Victoria Brooks as the sole actor was an absolute tour de force, whose ability to mesmerise the audience was sublime and incredibly well controlled.

Pleasingly, after the – incredibly depressing – Medea Redux, a fabulous selection for the evening’s final performance was the hilarious and very camp Christopher Durang piece Canker Sores and Other Distractions which focuses on a clearly mismatched divorced couple whose sudden romantic plans to become remarried after a chance encounter are ruined by inconveniences such as a canker sore and a waiter who simply cannot take a hint.

As far as the selection of modern American works goes, the order and contents of the plays was incredibly well selected. Particularly for anybody who has ever read Nabokov’s iconic work Lolita, the American flavour of Medea Redux was both palpable and devastating.

The only real downside was that the live music performed in the front bar at times overshadowed and distracted from the actors on stage.

Nonetheless, this was a teriffic local production well worth engaging with for a short dose, straight up, of Americana in all its kitschiness, tragedy and brashness.

Kryztof rating 3.5K

See all Kryztoff’s features and profiles in our May edition now out at: Kryztoff\’s On-line Magazine

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