Regional Reviews: Philadelphia
Also see Rebecca's review of Passing Strange
At the battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia, on the front lines of the Civil War, bodies are piling up fast. Before the Union soldiers march off to die they hand their most precious possessions over to a young nurse for safekeeping. Lydie (played with confidence and palpable grit by Melanie Julian) must decide whether to stay on the front lines and keep her promises or to risk everything to get supplies for the injured soldiers. Along the way she comes to share a common purpose with three very different men: mysterious and intellectual Joshua (Charlie DelMarcelle), earnest Amos (Ed Swidey), and opportunistic Dan (David Girard). While they travel behind the front lines Lydie reads from her journal, telling her new companions the story of how she became involved in the war.
The complicated relationship between storytelling and truth looms large throughout Cold Harbor and we are frequently reminded that both plotlines may be warped by the journals that record them. Lane Savadove's exquisite production blurs the line between history and mythology. Like a great arc rising from the ground, Markéta Fantová's solid set transports Lydie and her crew from the battlefield to the cabin of a boat and the beaches of Nantucket. Mike Inwood's spectacular lighting adds intensity and an uncanny sense of mystery. From simple period dress to supernatural animals, Marie Anne Chiment's costumes are spot on.
Unapologetic, empowered, and imperfect, Julian's Lydie Breeze is an unexpectedly modern heroine. Savadove's bewildering world is oddly familiar. There are moments when Cold Harbor feels expansive and inaccessible, but its message of hope in a relentlessly violent world goes right to the heart.
Lydie Breeze, Part I: Cold Harbor at EgoPo Classic Theater through February 11, 2018, at the Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N. American Street, Philadelphia PA. For tickets call 267-273-1414 or visit egopo.org.