Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Philadelphia

Lydie Breeze Trilogy Part II:Aipotu
EgoPo Classic Theater
Review by Rebecca Rendell | Season Schedule


Charlie DelMarcelle and Melanie Julian
Photo by Dave Sarrafian
EgoPo Classic Theater continues the world premiere of the full presentation of John Guare's Lydie Breeze Trilogy with Part II: Aipotu. Guare's achingly beautiful tale is an epic exploration of humanity's great potential and its most base impulses. Can the ideals of universality, selflessness and love triumph? Or will selfish pride and covetousness ruin everything? There are no easy answers to be found here, but it is a captivating and enlightening journey.

The first act of Aipotu takes place one day, seven years after Cold Harbor left Lydie Breeze and her chosen trio of veterans on the sandy shores of Nantucket. Lydie, Joshua, and Amos are still living out their utopian vision, but now there is a baby to take care of, Dan has been away for weeks, and funds are running low. Simmering resentments rise to the surface when Joshua gets a stinging rejection from the publisher he idolizes, putting an end to the project that has been motivating the entire commune. From a Hollywood-style train heist to blood red rain, the rest of their tragic story has enough dazzling joy and devastating calamity to give Aipotu the same mythic feel as its predecessor.

Melanie Julian is magnificent as Lydie Breeze, exuding strength and love even when she is completely broken. Julian embraces Lydie's pettiness and cruelty along with the power of her love and the force of her convictions. The result is a heroine as authentic and compelling as any I've seen on stage. Charlie DelMarcelle is brooding and self-centered as Joshua Hickman, infusing the play with a sense of despair. Ed Swidey gives a remarkable performance as the much abused Amos Mason, maintaining an aura of self-doubt even after he comes into his own. David Girard is the rough-edged but always amiable Dan Grady. Some of the ensemble form a small period band (they have a harmonium!) that plays the wonderful original score by Jay Ansill and Cynthia Hopkins. Their performance during intermission turns what could be an uncomfortably long 20 minutes into a delightful bonus.

Marketa Fantova's set design for the first act is impressive, using a deceptively simple arrangement of sand, wooden planks and boxes to create the Nantucket shore. The set for the second act is equally effective at creating a discrete and vivid space, but requires the audience seating to be shifted around in a way that is clearly time consuming (hence the 20 minute intermission) and does not really add anything to the experience. Mike Inwood's lighting is a boon to the production, as are Marie Anne Chiment's thoughtful and well-executed costume designs.

The body count may be lower in Aipotu, but the sense of loss and desperation is as palpable as ever. It is tempting to ask what went wrong, to find a flaw in the ideology that brings these people together. But if Aipotu teaches us anything, it's that the search for profound truth and universal explanations is inherently misguided. It is the everyday actions, petty emotions, and random twists of fate that make and break us. And anything can happen.

The initial run of EgoPo Classic Theater's world premier of Aipotu runs through March 18th, 2018, at Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N. American Street, Philadelphia PA. A short run of three-day and one-day marathon performances will start running on April 25th. More information about the Trilogy, tickets, and information about the company can be found online at www.egopo.org.

Crew:
Director: Lane Savadove
Composer and Music Director: Jay Ansill
Additional Composition: Cynthia Hopkins
Music Director: Jay Ansill
Set Designer: Marketa Fantova
Costume Designer: Marie Anne Chiment
Lighting Designer: Mike Inwood
Props Design: Dane Eissler and Katie Kiessling
Stage Manager: Jamel Baker
Technical Coordinator: Philadelphia Scenic Works
Costumer: Jamie Grace-Duff
Assoc. Director: Dane Eissler
Assoc. Lighting Designer: Amanda Clegg Lyon
Asst. Director: Katie Kiessling
Asst. Costume Designer: Kierceton Keller

Cast:
Lydie: Melanie Julian*
Joshua: Charlie DelMarcelle*
Amos: Ed Swidey*
Dan: David Girard*
Ensemble:
Andrew J. Carroll
Hannah Gold
Mark Knight
Jonas Parker
Amanda Jill Robinson
Kristy Joe Slough
Kylie Westerbeck
Philip Wilson
**Actors appearing with permission of Actors' Equity Association*


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