Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
See What I Wanna See
LaChiusa contributed music, lyrics and libretto to the three-part musical, which centers around nothing less than the nature of truth. He tells two complete stories and fragments of a third, using a talented five-member cast well directed by Matthew Gardiner.
The best part of the musical is the second act, Gloryday, which revolves around a New York City priest (Bobby Smith) who has lost his faith in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks. The plot concerns how faith, "proof of things not seen," builds upon hope and eventually creates its own reality. Smith is genuinely moving as he sets events in motion and sees them spiral out of his control. Channez McQuay sparkles as the priest's outspoken Aunt Monica, whose outspoken atheism shifts when she needs reassurance beyond what science and medicine can offerher contrasting solos, "The Greatest Practical Joke" and "There Will Be A Miracle," are highlights.
The first act, R Shomon, builds to a slow boil but gives the audience no resolution to hold on to. LaChiusa bases the plot on the same short story by Ryunosuke Akutagawa that inspired the famous Japanese film Rashomon, although he moves the setting to 1951 New York Cityactually, to the night of the film's American premiere. A man (Tom Zemon) has been found dead in Central Park, and the police are trying to get the story from a self-aggrandizing thief (Matt Pearson), the wife of the deceased (Rachel Zampelli) and a janitor (Smith), who stumbled on the corpse on his way home from work. McQuay is a medium who offers the testimony of the deceased.
Zemon, Zampelli and Pearson shine in this section as they act out the contradictory dramas in their statements. Who actually killed the man, and why? Was the encounter between the thief and the wife a violent rape or a willing seduction? It's all very interesting in a clinical way, but the audience could use a final, omniscient look at the incident that fuses together the individual perceptions.