REVIEW: Scorched (Silk Road Theatre Project)

 

A Silence That Speaks Louder Than Words

 

 

Scene from Silk Road Theatre Project's "Scorched" 1
   
Silk Road Theatre Project presents
   
Scorched
   
Written by Wajdi Mouawad
Translated by
Linda Gaboriau
Directed by Dale Heinen
at
Pierce Hall, 77 W. Washington (map)
through November 7  |  tickets: $24-$34  |  more info

Reviewed by Keith Ecker 

Silk Road Theatre Project’s production of Scorched is a cinematic wonder. The play whisks the audience away on an emotional journey that spans oceans and decades. Silk Road chooses to keep things minimal, with a set design that consists of little more than a small platform surrounded by sand, suggesting a far off land somewhere in the Fertile Crescent. Yet under the brilliant direction of Dale Heinen, this small set transforms into other worlds, worlds that reveal a tragic story of war, love, death and destruction.

Scorched, which is receiving its Chicago premier, was written by Lebanese playwright Wajdi Mouawad, who, as a long-time resident of French Scene from Silk Road Theatre Project's "Scorched" 2Canada and France, has built a reputation as one of the most esteemed French-language playwrights. If Scorched is a testament to his talent, then the reputation is most definitely deserved.

The story is one of the most compelling I have seen. It centers on two twins, Simon (Nick Cimino) and Janine (Lacy Katherine Campbell). Their mother, who has been mute for the past five years, just passed away. There are some odd provisions in her will, specifically two envelopes, one for each of the twins. One envelope is to be given to their father, a man they have never known. The other is to be given to their brother, a man they never even knew existed.

Mouawad crafts a great mystery right from the top, and the pacing in which he reveals the truth behind the twin’s lineage and their mother’s long silence is perfect. As the twins get closer to discovering family secrets, the tension mounts to an almost unbearable degree, which makes the ultimate conclusion that much more spine tingling. I will refrain from giving anything away, but I will say that this play has one of the best climaxes I have ever seen.

While the twins conduct their search, we learn about their mother, Nawal, through a series of flashbacks. Portrayed by multiple actresses, we see wrenching scenes of Nawal giving up her first-born child and fighting off hostile militants. Part of the genius of the play is that although Nawal is dead from the beginning; the events of the play reveal the rich life she led.

Scene from Silk Road Theatre Project's "Scorched" 4 Heinen’s direction is really the star of the play. That’s not to say the acting doesn’t stand for itself, which it does, but the effortless execution of a very difficult play is commendable. Flashbacks are seamlessly interwoven into action that takes place in the present day. Such scenes, which easily could have become a confused mess, are staged perfectly to ensure the overlapping never becomes cumbersome. Extra touches, such as the use of the back wall as a projection screen and the sudden backlighting of the same wall evoke images of a bullet-riddled bus, make the brutality of the play more vivid.

Campbell delivers an emotional performance as the daughter. Fawzia Mirza as Nawal’s friend Sawda has a captivating stage presence. And Diana Simonzadeh as the oldest incarnation of Nawal has a stately demeanor and exudes confidence.

Scorched is one of those rare plays that successfully crosses over into multiple genres, from historical fiction to family drama to mystery. If you want to see a great story beautifully told, see this show.

   
   
Rating: ★★★★
  
  

Scene from Silk Road Theatre Project's "Scorched" 1

Featuring: Adam Poss*, Diana Simonzadeh*, Fredric Stone*, Lacy Katherine Campbell, Rinska Carrasco-Prestinary, Nicholas Cimino, Justin James Farley, Carolyn Hoerdemann, and Fawzia Mirza.

* Denotes member of Actor’s Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers.

   
   

 

A scene from Wajdi Mouawad’s Scorched, featuring Rinska M. Carrasco (Young Nawal) and Nicholas Cimino (Wahab)

   
   


Theatre at the Center announces 2011 Season

Theatre at the Center

 

announces their

 

2011 Season

 

Coming off of a streak of some of the most successful seasons to date, Theatre at the Center Artistic Director William Pullinsi, announces their 2011 season, including Anthony Shaffer’s Sleuth, Nunset Boulevard, The Wiz, Guys and Dolls and Another Night Before Christmas

theatre at the center stage

February 17 – March 20, 2011

   
  Sleuth
   
  The season opens with one of the greatest stage thrillers, the masterpiece of suspense, Sleuth. The play, written by Andrew Shaffer, won the Tony Award for Best Play and inspired two film versions.  When an aging mystery writer lures his wife’s lover to his mansion, the younger man becomes unwittingly drawn into a tangled web of intrigue and gamesmanship, where nothing is quite as it seems. This edge-of-your-seat mystery filled with cunning plot twists is not only an exciting "whodunit" but a fascinating “whodunwhat."  The New York Times says Sleuth is "Clever, intricate…good, neat, clean and bloody fun and I most cordially recommend it.”  Sleuth will be directed by Theatre at the Center Artistic Director William Pullinsi and will run February 17 through March 20, 2011.

 

April 28 – May 29, 2011

   
  Nunset Boulevard
   
  Directed and choreographed by Stacey Flaster, Theatre at the Center presents the Chicago Area Premiere of the newest addition to Dan Goggin’s hilarious NUNSENSE line-up: Nunset Boulevard running April 28 through May 29, 2011.  The Little Sisters of Hoboken have been invited to sing at the Hollywood Bowl. They are thrilled at the prospect until they arrive and realize that they are booked into the Hollywood Bowl-A-Rama, a bowling alley with a cabaret lounge; having to contend with announcements from the bowling alley public address system as well as the activity on the lanes. The light at the end of the tunnel comes when word arises that a famous movie producer is auditioning across the street roles for his new movie musical, "NUNSET BOULEVARD: A Song from the Hart," about the life of Dolores Hart, the famous movie star who became a nun. The Sisters, who think they are obvious naturals for parts, race off to audition. NBC News raves,"Talk about a happy habit. The "nuns" have done it again. Sinfully funny laughs for the entire two hours."

 

July 7 – August 7, 2011

   
  The Wiz
   
  The Tony Award-winning musical, The Wiz, plays Theatre at the Center July 7 through August 7, 2011. The R&B musical adaptation of the book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum first opened on Broadway in 1975.  Dorothy’s adventures in the Land of Oz have been set in a dazzling, lively mixture of rock, gospel and soul music. Its Broadway run, for four years and over 1600 performances, was historic as a large-scale big-budget musical featuring an all-African American cast. The production features the music and lyrics of Charlie Smalls and book by William F. Brown.  It won seven Tony Awards including Best Musical and was later produced in the 1978 Motown/Universal motion picture adaptation starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Lena Horne, and Richard Pryor. Time Magazine says The Wiz is “a carnival of fun… a wickedly amusing show.” Stacey Flaster will direct and choreograph the production.

 

September 15 – October 16, 2011

   
  Guys and Dolls
   
  Based on “The Idyll of Sarah Brown” by Damon Runyon, Guys and Dolls is an exhilarating Tony Award-winning romantic comedy packed with gamblers, gangsters, missionaries, showgirls, and lively fun. Theatre at the Center Artistic Director William Pullinsi will direct the production running September 15 – October 16, 2011.  Guys and Dolls is the story of a group of gamblers in New York and the ladies in their lives. Sky has been bet that he can’t make the next lady that he sees fall in love with him, and when that next lady happens to be the prim and proper neighborhood missionary Sarah Brown, the stage is set for an evening of high-spirited entertainment.  Frank Loesser‘s toe-tapping score includes “Luck Be A Lady,” “Sit Down You’re Rocking The Boat” and “If I Were a Bell.”  Guys and Dolls premiered on Broadway on November 24, 1950 and ran for 1,200 performances, winning five 1951 Tony Awards. In London it ran for 555 performances. In 1955 the acclaimed film version was released, starring Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Jean Simmons and Vivian Blaine.

November 17 – December 18, 2011

   
  Another Night Before Christmas
   
  From the writers of MARRIED ALIVE! and A DOG’S LIFE Sean Grennan and Leah Okimoto, comes Another Night Before Christmas, bringing holiday cheer to Theatre at the Center November 17 through December 18, 2011.  Another Night Before Christmas tells the story of burnt-out social worker Karol Elliot, who is having a crisis of Christmas spirit. While heading home on a lonely Christmas Eve, she shares her groceries with a homeless man who decides to show his thanks and rekindle her holiday cheer by breaking into her apartment later that night insisting that he’s Santa Claus.  Instead of stealing her belongings, he brings in a bag of goodies and transforms her downtown apartment into a blinking, red and green wonderland. Before long Karol begins to wonder, is this bearded stranger more than what he seems? Another Night Before Christmas is a delight for the whole family. This witty and tuneful holiday favorite, Directed by William Pullinsi, is a Chicago Area Premiere and is sure to win laughs from anyone who’s ever lost – or found – the holiday spirit.
     
     

theatre at the center stage

 

Continue reading