Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Sober Joy of Theatre Exile's IRON

In what at first appears will be a grim Iron, something of a domestic drama (albeit entirely in the visitors' room at a Scottish prison) at Theatre Exile, a middle-aged female prisoner meets her now grown-up daughter for the first time in 15 years and the two recover possibilities for one another.  Granted, those possibilities are reasonably constricted ones, but because 'possibility' is (at least in the human realm) a matter of the mere fact of being able to exercise choice, the narrowest of non-determined futures can be as broad as an unlimited horizon when it comes to freeing a human spirit.  Both our monotheistic and philosophical traditions put the exercise of "free will" at the center of a meaningful human life.  The particular, accidental features of the choices we make with our freedom seem to be of secondary importance (when not actively evil), though I'd hazard to guess that we most liberate ourselves when we happen to liberate someone else.  Fay and Josie liberate one another, though Fay will never, ever leave prison, nor should she, and Josie will never let her self experience wild abandon, and nor, perhaps, should she.

The cast is fine.  Catharine K. Sulsar reveals through beautifully executed physical work a spirit turning toward renewal.  Kim Carson sifts for the gold of Josie's emotional truth as a particularly eagle-eyed gold panner sifts the elusive glimmers of a riverbed full of false hopes.  Michael Hagan and Caitlin Antram give well-modulated and genuinely supportive supporting performances (Hagan stands utterly still for what must be a ten minute monologue by Sulsar without ever pulling focus or looking unnatural.)  Director Deborah Block directs with visual imagination and sensitivity to shifting status without drawing attention to her choices.  Laura Jellinek's set forces the audience to remain alert to it's own involvement.  Christopher Colucci's sound design imprisons without entraping.  Alison Robert's costumes feel right.  Dialects are believable.

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