Discord is so natural to the human condition that we are often shocked when matters are settled amicably.
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins does not go so far as to find a peaceable solution for his characters in War, playing at LCT3 through July 3rd, but he looks at issues of race, mortality, and identity in his family saga.
Roberta (Charlayne Woodard) is in a coma after a stroke and her children, Tate (Chris Meyers) and Joanne (Rachel Nicks) find a stranger, Elfriede (Michele Shay) at her bedside. Elfriede uses the little English she knows to tell them that Roberta is her sister.
In the meantime, Joanne’s husband, Malcolm (Reggie Gowland) calls from Roberta’s apartment to say that he’s found a prowler there. Tobias (Austin Durant) is Elfriede’s son. They have travelled from Germany to meet Roberta. For Elfriede, the journey is emotional; for Tobias it is transactional.
Like Tobias, Tate is caught up in considerations of finance. He sees the Germans as usurpers. Joanne sees them as people in need. The outstanding Lance Coadie Williams rounds out the cast in two roles, as the domineering Nurse and the authoritative Alpha.
Jacobs-Jenkins indulges in the trendlet of breaking the fourth wall. In his case the surreal and supernatural, integral to his story is aided by Roberta’s addressing the audience. His is not a realistic play.
Under Lileana Blain Cruz’s direction offers what is nearly an out-of-body experience. The techno effects, with lighting by Matt Frey and sound by Bray Poor, and a minimalist set by Mimi Lien, conspire to give War its raw, and visceral power.
A handshake between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin inspired J.T. Rogers to create Oslo, a play about the backdrop to the peace accords. Oslo is at Lincoln Center‘s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, under the direction of Bartlett Sher, with a cast that includes the
charismatic Jefferson Mays, the wonderful Jennifer Ehle, and the dynamic Daniel Jenkins, and playing through August 28th. The large ensemble also features Michael Aronov, Anthony Azizi, Adam Dannheisser, Dariush Kashani, and Jeb Kreager.
Oslo explores the events that led up to the iconic moment in 1993 when peace in the Middle East seemed possible. The inevitable unravelling and descent into strife is a depressing reality today. It might be nice to go back to more hopeful times.