Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Also see Tracy's review of Señor Discretion Himself
Those who are fans of avant garde theater will want to catch Studio Theater's latest offering, Far Away. The 45 minute piece by Caryl Churchill is a commentary on corruption and war. It is an edgy piece, but it may not translate to everyone.
Far Away focuses on ten years in the life of a young girl named Joan. As a child she stumbles upon the secret activities of her aunt and uncle. Joan has many questions about these activities and eventually gets the truth out of her aunt. The show then fast forwards to Joan as young woman working in a hat factory. The hats created in this factory are wild and colorful. Some are made from metal. Others are made of fabric. All of the hats are very unusual and a bit whimsical. However, what first seems to be whimsical turns out to be disturbing.
Far Away conjures up thoughts of the plight of illegal aliens, the gassing of the Jews during the Holocaust and the advent of World War III. The writing is intentionally vague at times. Other times it is witty. There are some very real moments during the show but in the end it just feels false and very deliberate.
For the most part, the cast does a fine job. Veteran DC actor Holly Twyford gives a solid performance as the older Joan. As Todd, Joan's love interest, Matthew Montelongo is quite charismatic. Mikel Sarah Lambert as Joan's aunt and Simone Grossman as Young Joan have some strong moments together.
Helen Q. Huang's costumes make an immense impact in this show. Some of the hats are a sight to behold. The set by Debra Booth is very well designed. It is an uncomplicated and sparse set that transforms easily into several locales. The factory setting works especially well. The lighting by Michael Lincoln is incredibly dramatic and serves as a device to communicate mood. Additionally, a special mention should be made about the impressive sound design by Gil Thompson.
In some ways Far Away seems to be strange just for the sake of being strange rather than trying to communicate its message in an original way. However, it will please those looking for something different to add to their theatrical plate. Far Away runs through May 9th.
The Studio Theatre
Young Joan: Simone Grossman