Rochester, 1996

immersive theatre · capital w / drycraeft los angeles · Ages 16+ · United States of America

world premiere
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June 25, 2018 original article

What I liked

The earnestness of the entire cast makes this piece hit hard. The story of a Reverend Dan trying to save one of his flock from an abusive situation unfolds with surprising grace. Every hand gesture, every sideways glance of sadness or yearning… it resonates with a haunting believability. There is incredible honesty in the performances.

This feels like eavesdropping on a family’s personal business. The ensemble of actors brings this entire world to life with stunning naturalism.

The intimacy of a father offering comfort to his upset daughter, a daughter confronting her father… moments such as these play out with startling simplicity. The effect, at times, is awe-inspiring.

What I didn't like

During this workshop performance, there were a few elements that weakened some sequences. A portion of this show is staged in and around a vehicle. The staging sometimes made it hard to hear or see certain dramatic moments occur. Also, since the show is set in Rochester, New York, the LA locations sometimes proved a distraction simply because they are quintessential Los Angeles. Ambitiously moving the audience to multiple locations, the workshop performance felt clunky and awkward at times but that may change with more workshopping.

My overall impression

Revolving around Reverend Daniel Shoemaker, his wife Emily and his daughter, Philippa, this drama is a beautiful journey through a life-changing day in the life of a single family.

Philippa is the person who leads us through this day. Immediately, she hints at growing tension within the family and herself. Questioning her faith and her feelings as she becomes an adult, it is her perspective we see this world through. What unfolds over the course of almost three hours is a glimpse of the family’s past and events that have led them to this day of reckoning.

It becomes an emotionally harrowing journey. This show is a deeply moving family drama with a message of self-acceptance at its core. This might turn out to be one the most impressive immersive pieces of the year in Los Angeles.

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