The epiphany of death. Are you sinking on dry land? Dipping into the issues of racial equality, gay America, and other controversial issues, this play boggles the mind, stimulates the senses and slams many people along the way. “Who are we as a society?”, “What do we stand for?”, and “Where are we headed?” are all questions raised in the play The Breach written by Catherine Filloux, Tarell Alvin McCraney, and Joe Sutton, directed by David Esbjornson, choreographed by Sonia Dawkins, and playing in Seattle Rep’s Bagley Wright Theatre.
John Aylward and Nike Imoru in The Breach at Seattle Rep. Photo by Chris Bennion.
It opens with a boom. The outstanding set and the prodigious actors are key ingredients to this roller coaster ride of a drama. After the audience is scared silly out of their seats from a blatant flash of thunder they can take time to appreciate the set. Whoosh! The audience members are immediately displaced into the lower ninth ward during Hurricane Katrina. The moveable roof is small in comparison to the orchestra pit, which is used literally as an aquatic pool with rain flowing from the balcony of the stage, drenching what would have been a house in New Orleans.
This story follows the journey of three remarkable human beings and chronicles their struggle to survive and see the world how it truly is. In the opening scenes, we are given the classic example of what everyone views Katrina as: a family stripped of their dignity, sitting on a rooftop, hoping to endure the fate that may meet them in the murky waters below. Michelove René Bain, a fourth grader, plays a seven year-old girl, Quan, who is torn between the storm and her family’s constant bickering. During the entire play she does not speak, but has the older version of herself, Crystal Fox, off to the side of the house narrating and remembering what happened on that day with her brother and her grandfather. At first, it was slightly perplexing why a director would choose to have someone else narrate the little girl's thoughts, but further down the road everyone could see that the little girl had more to fear if she did speak up. Her grandfather, Pere Leon, played by William Hall, Jr., is a classic example of a man gone bitter by age and quick to assume the worst. To put it bluntly, the grandfather and the brother, Severence, played by Hubert Point-Du Jour, are not on good terms at all. Distracted by his oppressive childhood and his shameful secret, Severence desperately tries to keep what family he has left together throughout the storm. In the scenes to follow, John Aylward, who plays Mac, is introduced as an elderly disabled man who is fighting for his life. The audience follows Mac on a journey in the desolate waters through his hallucinations and through dealing with being abandoned by his loved ones. Mac is followed by Water. In this play a person is actually cast as Water. It is just a little bit strange. The talented actress assigned to the role is Nike Imoru. As evidenced by the fact that I am now absolutely terrified of water and having nightmares about drowning, this actress successfully portrays an almost evil force from a fairy tale that constantly provokes Mac. Her deep voice and creepy, floaty-like mannerisms could definitely be categorized as amazing acting, but her performance is almost distracting. The third actor present in this whirlwind of a play is Michael Braun, who plays a reporter and questions the character "Woman”, portrayed by Michele Shay, about what she thinks happened in Katrina. He explores the myths surrounding Katrina and his own feelings of racial prejudice toward others.
Overall, this play isn't a walk in the park. Little laughing goes on during the play, and the constant interchange between the three story lines makes it distracting and confusing at times. But, there is good acting, an outstanding set, and questions for all generations to consider. Therefore, I encourage everyone to go see The Breach with an open mind. If you are challenged by intellectual thought processes this play isn't for you, but if you enjoy political arguments and questions regarding the values of the human race, this play is the thread to your needle.
January 10th, 2008
Note: This play contains frequent instances of coarse language. It is recommended for mature students ages 13 and up. For more information on content, please contact Seattle Rep directly.
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Through February 9
More info and show times: http://www.seattlerep.org/
Seattle Rep’s Ticket Office: 206-443-2222
Ticket Office Hours: Daily, noon – performance time
Seattle Rep is located at 155 Mercer Street, on the North edge of Seattle Center. It is served by buses 1,2,3,4,13,15,16,18,45, 74 and 85. For bus times:
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