Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ground Up And Rising: Dying City (reviews)

dyingcityGround Up And Rising opened its production of Dying City at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden on September 7, 2014. 
Christopher Shinn’s towering contemporary hit drama “Dying City”, an award winning meditation on bereavement, closure, and the amalgamation of contrasting philosophies on whether the perpetual search for power in interpersonal relationships is an inherently binding facet of humanity, or the symptomatic manifestations of unresolved traumas.The play is a dissection of the impact on society of the war in Iraq. When one man goes to war he leaves the city, his wife and his only sibling. A year later only the wife and brother remain. Amiability and politeness turn to examination and grasps at resolutions that may never come, changing their lives indelibly.
Colin Carmouze directed a cast that featured Christian Vandepas and Valentina Izarra.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
The ultimate themes and intended resonances of Dying City dance just out of intellectual reach in Ground Up and Rising’s brave but flawed production, but the audience gets some reward sifting through the intriguing confusion as they seek graspable meaning.
This highly-acclaimed script is a complex labyrinth of mirrors that artistic director (and talented actor) Collin Carmouze never quite solves although he clearly is working hard to lead us through the maze. Not only are the characters lost, but the audience is as well much of the time.
The good news is that it gives audiences another chance to chart actor Christian Vandepas’ slow but steady emergence as an actor to watch… His Craig certainly has some classic (if not stereotypical) bubbly and fussy mannerisms, but Vandepas makes them organic and credible. His portrayal is so convincing that when he finally appears as the deeply troubled soldier Peter, it’s actually a bit of a shock that what we have seen of Craig has been acting. There’s a breakout role waiting for Vandepas somewhere.
Shin wrote a tougher challenge for Kelly. Izarra, who was admirable in Alliance Theatre Lab’s Savage In Limbo and Ground Up’s Gruesome Playground Injuries, has shown she needs some meaty emotion for her performances to succeed; she has difficulty investing an inner life when she is burdened with a mostly deadpan role like this one… Kelly is so shielded against her own feelings as well as interaction with the outside world that she comes off mostly as a sad brooder, especially compared to the extravagant Craig. As a result, her Kelly seems like she is just floating through the play. This may be faithful to the script, but it leaves Vandepas with not much to play off of
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami ArtZine:
Christopher Shinn’s Dying City is a challenging piece best watched while leaning forward, perched on the edge of the seat, mouth slightly agape and eyes squinted to catch every nuance skittering through a ninety minute message that all’s not right with a young war widow, her manly dead husband reappearing in flashbacks and her husband’s gay twin brother.
Izarra plays Kelly, the widow, with the resignation and quietness of bereavement that lends enthralling power to her story. Her rage and sorrow are real.
Vandenpas excels as both Peter the actor and his twin brother Craig the soldier.
Collin Carmouze directed and kept the pace such that the slowly fading afternoon light, the heat, the mosquitoes and noise of overhead airplanes could not distract from this performance of Dying City.
Ground Up And Rising present its production of Dying City at the Artistic Vibes on September 20-21, and 27-28, 2014. 

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