ensemble theatre · the illyrian players · Ages 16+ · United States

world premiere
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JOSEPH MCMAHON certified reviewer June 06, 2014
Man, this was weird. like WEIRD weird, but in a good way. It may not be everyone's cup of tea but I still think it's worth rolling the dice and checking it out. Even though I started off unsure of whether I was going to like the piece, I spent the entire show engaged, waiting to see what was going to happen next. If you're familiar with the computer game series Fallout, this is exactly the sort of story you'd expect to come across while playing. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, prepare yourself for some crazy. Joanna Rose Bateman did an excellent job as the lead character, and Bruce Lemor Jr. and Bethany Esfandiari were both quite good as well. And both the lighting and sound did a great job of furthering the mood crea... full review
NICOLE CRAIG certified reviewer June 21, 2014
Having read the play beforehand, I feel this show overall looks better on the page than it does on stage. That's not to say I didn't enjoy many of the artistic touches, such as using white christmas light strings to represent the plant vines and isolated lighting that the actors could access and use when needed. Also having the music of Bjork as the main soundtrack was a brilliant choice as it set a great tone and mood for the show. However, I felt some of the transitions from one scene to the next were messy and confusing. It should be made clear the purpose of a character leaving and/ or returning to the stage and why. I felt some of that got lost as the music and lighting seemed to be more important at times. To me, Joanna Bateman as ... full review
BEAU SMITH certified reviewer June 14, 2014
You know how a lot of horror films like to put an innocent piece of activity, say a music box or a child singing, and put that against horrible events and imagery to give a feeling of dread and uncertainty? Odessa made me feel like that the whole time, while still finding moments of laughter and genuine joy. Post apocalyptic stuff always makes me wary since everyone always seems to go in the same direction with that sort of thing, but Odessa does a good job of establishing a viewpoint and a world while still preserving a sense of horrible mystery that lasts all the way to its logical, maybe hopeful, maybe sickening ending. Don't want to give too much away since the show is all about being shoved gently but relentlessly down a hall... full review
ENCI BOX certified reviewer June 07, 2014
This show has a very strong script with strong characters. Unfortunately when I saw this production on opening night, the characters seemed to all be insane, neurotic, mean, and dumb, instead of bringing out each persons vulnerability, their fears, their wants, and their needs. I wanted to care for them but I didn't. The chemistry between Cliff and Alice was completely missing. They were at each others throats from beginning to end, yelling at each other, even when they both wanted to devour each other. Alice's character was supposed to be "sweet, dumb, and weak" but the sweetness was completely missing as was her weakness. She was a strong, crazy woman from the beginning. Hard to believe a man would fall for a woman like that (not even ... full review
STEVE MADAR certified reviewer June 23, 2014
At the end of civilization, when everything is running down, people will do anything they can to find a connection with another person, plant or animal. Set in an underground bunker below an inhospitable world, Alice and Cliff try to fulfill each other's needs where each is one another's last hope, all while attempting to sustain themselves with cans of Clean, when a stranger named Preacher is brought in to their circle and disrupts their functional dysfunction. Carly Weckstein does a great job creating the heat and post apocalyptic clausterphobia of this show, while Bruce Lemon and Bethany Esfandiari offer two sides of the opportunistic coin. The force of the show comes from Joanna Bateman's muscular tenderness that transforms her internal... full review
NINA HARADA certified reviewer June 10, 2014
Odessa is such a fun piece of theatre. I loved being transformed into this post-apocalyptic world with a cast of characters who are just trying to survive. The performances were fantastic. I especially loved watching Bethany play the take-no-bullshit Preacher. I only wish the play delved a little deeper into the consequences of the power struggles the three characters experience as they navigate this strange world where there isn't much left of anything. ... full review
GRETCHEN LODGE certified reviewer June 25, 2014
So, I love this script. And I loved each of the actors portraying these characters. And I thought the directing was inspired on the whole, but what was missing for me was the beauty in the details. There was an atmosphere of suffocation, of feeling trapped which I felt that this play needed, but lacked. Without that sense of where they are, there was no sense of urgency for me. I want to see things happen in this story because they simply must, not because the characters are finding excuses for the whims of the playwright. I think this play is very relevant, and has the potential to have a very loud voice, but the whispers throughout the story need to be explored in depth before that can happen. ... full review
THEO MOTZENBACKER certified reviewer June 14, 2014
This show is a visual treat, with gorgeous lighting and great performances all around. Make sure to sit in the front, though! I was sitting a few rows back and I couldn't see what was going on for big sections of the show. ... full review
JENNY LOWER certified reviewer June 13, 2014
Odessa by John Tyler McClain. Review by Jenny Lower. **This review first appeared on www.stageraw.com** In this world premiere written by John Tyler McClain and directed by Carly D. Weckstein, Earth Up Top is a post-apocalyptic wasteland, the casualty of an unspecified disaster that has left bottles of Clean scarce. Below ground, Alice (the marvelous Joanna Bateman), wearing a tattered blue dress, tends her plants and practices the waltz, awaiting the return of Cliff (Bruce A. Lemon, Jr.), with whom she barters sexual favors in exchange for Clean. Their tenuous existence is upended by the capture of Preacher (Bethany Esfandiari), who turns Alice’s head with tales of Odessa, a survivors’ enclave, sparking a power struggle with Cliff. Ala... full review