By Alice Birch; Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz
Off Broadway, Play
Extended through 5.22.16
Soho Rep, 46 Walker Street
by Keith Paul Medelis on 4.19.16
Daniel Abeles, Molly Bernard, Jennifer Ikeda, and Eboni Booth in Revolt. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.
BOTTOM LINE: Revolution begins and ends with words.
I challenge that matters of political unrest are entirely semantic ones. Transgender bathroom use would be solved by an agreement of pronouns, the abortion debate long resolved after the definition of life achieved, sexual consent settled on the meaning of the word “no.” I also resolve that language has tremendous power toward the violent, and often the greatest and most effective utterances are those with few letters. Trigger warnings are the new thing to the chagrin of comedians everywhere. The idea is that the mere suggestion of a semantic issue can produce enough vitriol to offend, and even regression toward a terrifying place for the unsuspecting individual.
And this is all exhilarating and exhausting. If it’s a thrilling prospect for you, Alice Birch’s Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. is your show. Brilliantly articulately here, the revolution begins only when we find ourselves so overwhelmed with a rapidly accelerating, information-seeking, dumb-finding, Trump-filled world that we must explode. We cannot do anything but explode and return to an untouched, uncluttered world: the natural one where language has no purpose. I urge you, nay require you to see Revolt. to witness the final sequence of the play that will not soon leave you and may, instead, leave you speechless and stumbling for words as you collect your things, spew yourself onto Walker Street, and attempt to get through a casual drink with a friend after the show despite the genius that you have just witnessed.
Birch’s play, in characteristic Soho Rep style, will be like none you’ve ever seen. First, you come into an inverted and elevated playing space, looking out toward the lobby and hovering over the usual floor of the space on blond plywood sheets canvassed with white walls. You’re now transported into some kind of trendy, techno-thumping, overpriced bar in the Meatpacking District. Adam Rigg’s set design also features an ominous looking menagerie of fake plants that’ll come in handy later. Yi Zhao’s lights, wonderfully basic at the beginning, soon show some fireworks, and Palmer Hefferan’s sound actually deeply penetrates your body in useful, almost nonconsensual ways.
Lileana Blain-Cruz leads an expert cast of four—Daniel Abeles, Molly Bernard, Eboni Booth, and Jennifer Ikeda—through a series of scenes with naturalistic ease. They explore conventional ideas of marriage, work, body politics, and simply language through a series of unrelated vignettes. Kaye Voyce’s costumes transport us through these new characters in ways you may be familiar with in this kind of storytelling. Though soon we’ll shake all that convention up as the women take over this play in a primal, cathartic scene after they simply can’t go on any longer with this assault.
Ok, readers. I might spoil this a little so skip to the last paragraph if you want to be fully surprised. At the play’s conclusion I found myself in mourning for mother earth herself, and I was blindsided. After all the fighting and disagreements it seems we’ve turned our eyes away from our very foundation, our core, our soil beneath our feet. And those damn fake trees aren’t doing anything to purify this air and nourish our bodies, supporting us in our time of need. We’ve fought each other too much, neglecting the one thing we all require for the disagreements to even be fought in the first place—our terrestrial home. Damn, Alice Birch. This play gets me.
Welcome back readers not looking for spoilers. This latest Soho Rep concoction is an important one. If you wait you might have trouble getting tickets, as tends to be the way with this company. But at least it’s not Hamilton. Get yourself down here. And that after-theater-drink-conversation-trouble you’ll be having as you try to put all this into words? I get it. I’ve been there too. Have another. You’ll be fine.
(Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. is presented at Soho Rep, 46 Walker Street, through May 22, 2016. The running time is 60 minutes, with no intermission. Performances are Tuesdays through Fridays at 7:30, and Saturdays and Sundays at 3 and 7:30. Tickets are $35-$65. More information can be found online at sohorep.org and by calling 212.352.3101.)
Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. is written by Alice Birch. It is directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. Scenic Design by Adam Rigg. Lighting Design by Yi Zhao. Costume Design by Kaye Voyce. Sound Design by Palmer Hefferan. Props Design by George Hoffman and Greg Kozatek. Projection Design by Hannah Wasileski. Fight Choreography by J. David Brimmer. The Production Stage Manager is Lisa McGinn, David Nelson is the Production Manager.
The cast features Daniel Abeles, Molly Bernard, Eboni Booth, and Jennifer Ikeda.