Talkin' Broadway HomePast ColumnsAbout the Author

Washington DC by Susan Berlin

The Guard
Ford's Theatre

Also see Susan's reviews of Uprising and Destiny of Desire

Mitchell Hébert and Craig Wallace
The Guard, Jessica Dickey's play receiving its premiere production at Ford's Theatre in Washington, is a sweet, amiable and not terribly deep consideration of the role of art in life. The actors give the material more gravitas than it deserves, as does the grounding of James Kronzer's monumental scenic design.

Dickey shifts from one time and place to another in each scene, beginning with the early morning thoughts of art museum guard Henry (Mitchell Hébert). He speaks at length about how Rembrandt worked completely in white, red, ochre, and black—colors picked up in the scenic design—and about his sense that the paintings communicate something beyond what the usual museum visitors can comprehend. The later scenes dramatize his exact points, which seems obvious and rather didactic.

Henry's compatriots at the museum are Jonny (Tim Getman), an armed security guard whose awareness of culture boils down to watching the Kardashians on television; Dodger (Josh Sticklin), Henry's trainee, a spiky-haired street artist; and Madeline (Kathryn Tkel), a young woman using art classes to help her work her way through grief. For reasons he can't explain, Henry decides to break the cardinal rule of art preservation and touch Rembrandt's "Aristotle with a Bust of Homer."

That act of transgressing, or transcending, boundaries leads to a domestic scene in the Amsterdam home of Rembrandt (Hébert) as he works on that very painting, then farther back to a monologue, or perhaps an oration, by Homer (Craig Wallace, who later plays Hébert's dying husband). The historic scenes are deliberately anachronistic with contemporary language and timing; Dickey might have meant this as a way to bridge the differences between eras, but it's more jarring than soothing.

Director Sharon Ott shows a light touch as she keeps the 90-minute play from dragging and never overplays either the pathos or the comedy. The actors demonstrate commitment to their roles, especially Hébert's gentleness as he keeps his emotions under control and Wallace's outspokenness in both his roles.

Ford's Theatre
The Guard
September 25th - October 18th
By Jessica Dickey
Stickling: Tim Getman
Henry/Rembrandt: Mitchell Hébert
Dodger/Titus: Josh Sticklin
Madeline/Henny: Kathryn Tkel
Homer/Simon: Craig Wallace
Directed by Sharon Ott
511 Tenth St., N.W.
Washington, DC
Ticket Information: 202-347-4833 or

Photo: Scott Suchman

-- Susan Berlin

Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.

Terms of Service

[ © 1997 - 2015, Inc. ]