Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

There's Always the Hudson
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
Review by Susan Berlin

Also see Susan's review of The Joy That Carries You and coverage of Carol Burnett Honored with Signature Theatre's Sondheim Award


Paola Lázaro and Justin Weaks
Photo by Teresa Castracane Photography
There's Always the Hudson, now at Washington's Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, is what longtime fans of the company would call "a Woolly play": intense, controversial, and defiantly in your face. Playwright Paula Lázaro has created an intentionally chaotic, sometimes hilarious, often deeply painful portrait of two people who have bonded over their shared traumas and are determined to do whatever they have to do to stop their suffering.

New Yorkers Lola (played by the author) and T (Justin Weaks) both survived childhood sexual abuse, became friends after meeting in a support group, and are struggling to find and sustain healthy relationships. They had earlier decided that they would strike back at the people who hurt them, then together jump off the George Washington Bridge–but the deadline is this very night.

Director Jess McLeod plays up the artifice of the situation in a way that cushions the seriousness of Lola and T's plight. First, the characters acknowledge that they have demons, then they get down on all fours and howl to release the demons, then they set out to make things right for themselves. Their antagonists include unscrupulous former bosses, people who trash-talk others regarding their mental health and behavior, and ultimately the people who destroyed their childhoods. Similarly, Misha Kachman's scenic design and Barbara Samuels' lighting design create acting spaces in unexpected places, and Tosin Olufolabi's sound design sometimes takes the audience inside the actors' heads.

Lázaro and Weaks give fearless performances as their characters go to extremes, speaking in torrents of profane poetry. Elan Zafir, Migs Govea, and Marilyn Torres play the people in their lives, ranging from a cheerful drug dealer and a hilariously somber support group member to people forced to justify their past behavior.

There's Always the Hudson runs through June 5, 2022, at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, 641 D St. NW, Washington DC. For tickets and information, please call 202-393-3939 or visit www.woollymammoth.net.

By Paola Lázaro

Cast:
Lola: Paola Lázaro
Chase, Scott, and Rudy: Elan Zafir
T: Justin Weaks
Ernesto and Antonio: Migs Govea
Madeline & Isabella: Marilyn Torres


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