Villain - An American Story

ensemble theatre · from the gut creations · Ages 13+ · United States of America

world premiere
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June 03, 2018 certified reviewer

What I liked

It’s not enough to just talk about serious issues, it’s important to talk about them with social intelligence and tact— to offer something new that isn’t just a regurgitation of what’s on the news or even just what has happened in our own limited universes. This show does a solid job of creating a bigger conversation than the one most people are having about this issue.

What I didn't like

It was the preview so I hesitate to make any complaints. That said, the sound effects were easily 2x too loud, there was a transition where props that should have been placed on the ground were literally thrown, in full light, creating a thud and that didn’t work for me. I feel like the production team would have (or already have) picked up on those things and will have fixed them before the next performance, but just in case :)

I’d recommend disallowing late seating for this show or at least making sure no one gets to climb into the front row after the show has started. Audiences deserve to get every moment of this important show.

My overall impression

“Highly recommended” doesn’t feel like a positive enough thing to say here. I look forward to seeing this show at the Geffen or the Mark Taper in a few years when someone with money gets the privilege to produce it. It’s a bigger piece than this space really allows it to be, but they make it work. That said, it’s a privilege to get to see these incredible actors this up-close and personal.

This cast is the real deal. I can’t even list the standout performers because I feel bad not acknowledging every single person- some really delicious scenes were written for every main character of this spectacular ensemble cast and every cast member lived up to the challenge.

I suspect this show will become one that actors use for auditions and scene work for classes- some great questions are asked in this show that not only tackles an important topic, but does a great job in taking the audience to some uncomfortable places- should we feel empathy for people who have done something wrong? Is there a time when it’s a good idea to lie? Villain takes a deeper and more effective look into the timely issue of police brutality and violence, particularly violence targeting black men, and gives unexpected room to explore the side of the police officer, not letting anyone off the hook for anything but just illuminating parts of this issue that often get overlooked.

Pro Tip: sit in the first 3 rows if at all possible to avoid being distracted by entrances and light from the lobby. That probably goes for all shows at the Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre, but this particular piece has a lot of entrances and exits. Someone might want to look into either disallowing late seating or at least limiting it to the back row.

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