Review by PAYDEN ACKERMANJune 13, 2018
What I liked
Rochester, 1996 succeeds in its attention to detail. The production design is top-notch, and those who grew up in a Christian Church may be haunted (or delighted?) by flashbacks.
The pacing of the show is absolutely unique. We are instructed to leave our phones and other electronic devices at home. Coupled with much of the show unfolding in a church van (complete with all those moments of quiet you can expect from a family in transit), it gives audience members time to reflect on the action and recalls a simpler, and slower time. This is important, as some of the topics that come up are quite heavy.
But the performers are the true stars here. Nerea Duhart is magnificent as our guide and the Pastor’s daughter. Her performance is subtle, nuanced, affecting, and carries the show. Thaddeus Shafer gives a layered, powerful performance as the Pastor. Dasha Kittredge is simply arresting.
What I didn't like
I’m not sure. The run-time makes it hard to want to return – but I’m not sure I would cut anything from the play. Every action felt deliberate, and the pace of the show works so well in treating the themes of the piece.
My overall impression
Rochester, 1996 is an experience you aren’t likely to forget. Lauren Ludwig and Thaddeus Shafer have created a deeply personal meditation on religion, family, and sexual identity. The result is a three-hour long immersive experience that is at times funny, poignant, shocking, and always intriguing.