RICHARD ADAMS, The World Socialist Website
RISE, scripted by Cal Barnes and deftly directed by Aaron Lyons, stars Brett Colbeth and Gowrie Hayden, actors fresh from the long-running hit Pulp Shakespeare (a staging of Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction as if written by Shakespeare, its Wiki-script emerging from an open on-line collaboration). The cast are members of the newly-formed Zenith Ensemble.
The play begins with Henry Donner (Colberth), an ex-musician in jeans, t-shirt, hair pulled back in a neat ponytail, clutching a bible, grooving to inspirational Christian rock. Donner, we soon discover, is the popular pastor of the New Heart Church. Donner, using the audience as stand-in congregation, delivers an utterly engaging and earnest sermon,...
Thoroughly enjoyed this performance. Would have said I loved it, but the opening monologue (which was pretty much a sermon) was just long enough to make me uncomfortable (and not in a good, this-is-edgy-theatre way). The actors were fabulous and the script is quite good. ...
certified reviewerJune 10, 2012
Great actors, there wasn't a moment when I wasn't engaged in the story. In just 75 minutes they made me really care about their lives and what would happen. Glad I made time to see this one!...
Zenith Ensemble's inaugural production and world premiere of Rise by first time playwright Cal Barnes is extremely impressive (to say the least). Brett Colbeth's ability to stay committed to his character, even while relying on his unsuspecting audience to respond, and playing off their response, as well as Gowrie Hayden's seductive and unpredictable nature make this show simply fun to watch.
I used Rise as a filler for my time between shows on Sunday - but am I ever glad I did. This was the most powerful and moving play I saw all weekend (I saw 6) and I’m still thinking about it and wondering what is going to happen next. The characters were engaging and well acted. I kept seeing a young Annette Bening while watching Gowrie Hayden and was completely taken by surprise by the physicalness of the performances, almost shocking and a little disturbing, though completely appropriate. I have no idea how they didn’t get knocked unconscious for some of those falls. Brett Colbeth was fun to watch, including his opening sermon which was completely believable and one of the reasons I stay away from churches, but I believed his characte...
Really strong actors, engaging script, and directing that is just hands-off enough to be able to let these actors play and live in the world they have created. The small amount of fight choreography is especially convincing and effective...terrifying really. You can tell that this ensemble has strengths in that area. And they bring a hell of a lot of heart to the stage.
This show could easily fall into the trap of being extremely one note, but the actors dodge that bullet for the most part and find quite a bit of variation in having almost the same argument for the entire play.
All in all, an extremely strong debut production from this wonderful new company, Zenith Ensemble. ...
The first 15 minutes can be really off-putting if you don't know what you're in for. It's awkward in a wonderful, wonderful way. Brett Colbeth is 100% committed and absolutely unflappable as he delivers a passionate Christian sermon. In the performance I attended, he didn't even bat an eyelash when a patron that was clearly feeling misled about the nature of the show, started talking back to him, then got up and walked out. (The patron didn't know that the sermon was all part of the show, and returned a moment later after the house manager had to convince him to come back.) Colbeth was so utterly convincing, I had flashbacks to the Sunday mornings of my childhood.
Stick around though, as once the sermon's over and the show starts, you're...
Go see this play!! Wow. WOW.
Cal Barnes' script is riveting - there isn't a beat where I'm not engaged. And I love that this is a world premiere - such incredible new work!! Brett Colbeth is completely compelling. Gowrie Hayden is one powerful amazing actress. Aaron Lyons' direction is so well paced and quite frankly bad ass.
A real conflict, and two people simply working their shit out together onstage. The best thing I've seen at the Fringe so far. Go!...
certified reviewerJune 18, 2012
Do yourself a favor: clear your Fringe schedule and see this play. You won't regret it.
"Rise" hits on every level. The performances are pitch-perfect, the staging muscular and dangerous and the writing feverish and potent.
This play is Sam Shepard cracked out on evangelical Christianity.
But the comparison to Shepard is only to give you some idea of the flavor of the piece. "Rise" certainly stands on its own as an original work of art that deserves to be recognized for its rawness and honesty in every phase of production and performance.
Once again, see this play.
I go the Fringe to be floored. "Rise" was the first play that floored me.
This is the real deal. You'll be talking it about it for hours after...
My partner and I added this play to our hit list after meeting the playwright at Fringe Central and I am so glad we did. We took a group of four and everybody agreed that the acting, writingn, directing, and fight scenes were amazing. Rise is the whole package...plus controversy enough to last through several after-dinner drinks. Our group was split down the middle on what the ending should have been, what we would have liked to see these characters do next, what really happened after the final curtain. Don't miss Rise. You won't regret it and you won't forget it. Congratulations to everybody on a great show. ...