Thinking Cap Theatre Company opened its production of A Map of Virtue at The Vanguard on October 1, 2015.
A Map of Virtue is a symmetrical play guided by a bird statue, pivoting around an encounter with and dissection of evil. Part interview, part comedy, part middle-night-middle-forest horror story.
Nicole Stodard directed a cast that included Noah Levine, Niki Fridh, Casey Dressler, Alex Alvarez, Scott Douglass Wilson, and Tom Anello.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Here’s everything you need to know about Thinking Cap Theatre’s engrossing production of Erin Courtney’s A Map of Virtue: It’s dark. It’s unnerving. It resonates in ways you don’t expect and travels to places you never see coming. It’s experimental theater — the narrator is, after all, a bird statue, played with watchful, exquisite grace by Jovon Jacobs — but it’s experimental theater that’s linear enough to follow easily, challenging enough to make you think and creepy enough to haunt your dreams.
Directed by Nicole Stodard, A Map of Virtue is full of unexpected coincidences and terrors, which play out effectively in the small confines of The Vanguard theater in Fort Lauderdale. The minimalist set by Alyiece Moretto adds to a growing sense of claustrophobia as main characters Mark (Tom Anello) and Sarah (Casey Dressler) describe for an unseen interviewer the way they keep meeting over and over..
A Map of Virtue then shifts into horror mode, and director Stodard understands — like every filmmaker who ever made a truly frightening movie — that what’s most disturbing isn’t blood and gore but silence and stillness and waiting…. This approach makes the tension all the more palpable, and the cast — which includes the memorable Niki Fridh and a deeply creepy Noah Levine — plays out this grim scenario with fatalistic dexterity.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Suffice it to say that if you like your theater schematic, clear-cut and requiring little cogitation after the curtain falls, you will absolutely hate A Map of Virtue. But if you don’t mind being a bit at sea during and after a play, if you like wrestling with a production while it’s underway, if you enjoy trying to dope out what it meant on the ride home, if you like, well, thought-provoking theater, then Thinking Cap’s production may well intrigue you.
What you cannot fault is how director Nicole Stodard and her cast invest themselves 100 percent in what starts out with quiet naturalistic interviews of everyday people, evolves into metaphysical metaphors including a bird statue come to life, slides into a nightmarish central section worthy of a slasher film and then reverses the process until we are back to a group of seemingly normal folks whose lives, though, have been cauterized by the experience.
…if an audience is willing to stay open to the experience, something almost indefinable does shine through and makes the evening worthwhile to an intellectually adventurous audience.
Anello and Dressler are especially effective in creating everyday people you might work with in an office or meet at a party. Fridh is credible as the unhinged “headmistress” and Levine is just plain unhinged.
Perhaps it’s the very uncertainty of Virtue’s upended world that makes this play scary enough to put an early Halloween chill in an audience.
Rod Stafford Hagwood wrote for The Sun-Sentinel:
The dark play staged by Thinking Cap Theatre at the Vanguard in Fort Lauderdale defies easy description, at least without giving a detailed map of its plot points... Here is what I know for sure: "A Map of Virtue," with its unpredictable paths and twisty-turny contortions, is profoundly entertaining.
…to give away more detail would be ruinous. So all I will tell you is that what the characters go through changes them, burns right through them. And just as the 90-minute, intermission-less work comes to a close, you will appreciate just how this fine cast, under the direction of Nicole Stodard, makes this improbable play work, when it really shouldn't.
Oh, and one more thing: You'll be thinking about "A Map of Virtue" afterward for days.
The Thinking Cap Theatre Company production of A Map of Virtue plays at The Vanguard through October 18, 2015