Directed by Karen Kessler
At A Red Orchid Theatre, Chicago
A “solstice” is an astronomical event that occurs twice each year as the Sun reaches its highest or lowest excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere.
Cautionary parable foreshadows the violence and inequality that surrounds us
The folks at A Red Orchid know a gem when they find it. The selection of British playwright Zinnie Harris’ Solstice is a most worthy play. Solstice is a parable set in a war-torn world (Eastern Europe?) in an unnamed city divided by a river ,and politics, money, and religion.
We meet a gentle candle maker, Michael (Larry Grimm) and his somewhat estranged sickly wife Terese (Kirsten Fitzgerald) and their 15 year-old son Adie (Andrew Cutler). This family struggles to survive their deteriorating environment and way of life. They are “bog” people shunned by those who live across the bridge.
We also meet the teens in the area: Sita (Sarah Price) Adie’s girlfriend – herself an orphan living in the church bell tower. Sita encounters her brother Jean (the terrifically intense Danny Luwe) and his mate Sol (Kevin Matthew Reyes). These two guys are planning revenge for wrongs done to their mates.
When Thomas (Steve Schine) arrives with gifts and word from the city that their side of the river is to be vacated and mines for minerals, Michael and Terese retreat into false hope that their God will protect them, their homes and their way of life.
However, the teens plan violence in response to violence thrust upon them. This cycle has profound consequences. This 85 (with intermission) play packs a wallop as the intense work from the younger actors carries the piece.
From Sarah Peice’s integument to Andrew Cutler’s low-key angst to Danny Luwe’s extreme emotional outbursts. The entire ensemble did yeomen work. Kirsten Fitzgerald, Larry Grimm and Meighan Gerachis delivered effective performances.
Solstice is one of those theatrical gems that needs a strong cast and a director with a focused vision (like Karen Kessler has here). It is a moving cautionary tale of what happens when violence and inequality separate folks from the same culture . It demonstrates how terrorist are made when intolerance invades a culture.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: January 13, 2014
For more info checkout the Solstice page at theatreinchicago.com.
At A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells, Chicago, IL, call 312- 943-8722, www.aredorchidtheatre.org, tickets 25 – $35, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 85 minutes with intermission, through February 23, 2014