Directed by Benno Nelson
Conceived by Mary Hollis Inboden
Produced by The New Colony
At The Second Stage (former Stage Left Theatre)
“At 12 years old, Chicago actress Mary Hollis Inboden survived the Westside Middle School massacre, one of the most shocking events of the 90s. But who writes history when nobody’s the victor? In an honest and irreverent homecoming that mixes fact, fiction, identity, and history, Mary Hollis recruits an ensemble of her former classmates to help capture their stories, not of the tragic event that unites them, but of the daily battles and triumphs that define their present.” – from The New Colony website
The New Colony Theatre’s playwright Evan Linder had the tough task of working with a survivor of the March 24, 1998 Westside Middle School shooting that left four dead and ten wounded. Mary Hollis Inboden, herself a Warrior, helped with the script as well as staring as the survivor determined to go back to Jonesboro, Arkansas to reunite with her fellow ‘Warriors.’ This 80 minute work tries to demonstrate the daily battles and triumphs of those most closely affected by their traumatic experiences now 13 years ago.
While it is a worthy glimpse into the minds and attitudes of the survivors, The Warriors unfolds as a timid, guarded portrait sans any elements of “survivors guilt.” We learn how difficult it is for any of The Warriors to speak about that day. Each warrior must deal with their hidden emotions on their own terms. This dramatization highlights some of the issues long simmering by each. I only wished that this work would have gone deeper into more of the unanswered questions that linger around such traumas.
Director Benno Nelson’s strange blocking on his runway stage had audience members on either side of the stage made for one or more of his cast being positioned with their backs to half of the audience. This diluted the effects of the drama being presented could easily be avoided by placing the actors at the opposite diagonal from the south angle moving toward the exit that leads to the restrooms. My point is that it is possible to block actors so that both sides of the audience can see the faces of actors at all times. The constant movement caused needless tedium diminishing the impact of the drama. This important event deserves stronger production values. As presented, it still is worthy of an audience. Mary Hollis Inboden’s brave performance alone makes The Warriors worth seeing.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: March 26, 2011
At The Second Stage Theatre, 3408 N. Sheffield Ave., Chicago, IL, call 773-413-0862, www.thenewcolony.org, tickets $25, Thursdays thru Sundays at 7:30 pm, running time is 80 minutes without intermission, through April 17, 2011