Regional Reviews: Philadelphia
For the next hour and twenty minutes, Kash Goins' new play slowly creeps and suddenly veers in unexpected directions, confronting the ugly ubiquity of casual racism and revealing the fundamental humanity of everyone involved. I do not want to give away too much, but it is an emotionally fraught, wild ride.
74 Seconds ... to Judgment originally premiered as part of Goins' residency at the Arden last year and he has been working with director Amina Robinson to thoroughly redevelop and restage the play in this production.
The spectacular ensemble of actors brings their vision to life with earnest energy; each and every member of the cast is excellent. Kala Moses Baxter's character transitions for Ramona are magic, and her poignant scenes with the impressively versatile Travoye Joyner as Brandon are unforgettable. Philadelphia favorite Dan Hodge gives off a quietly goofy charm punctuated by a deeply moving moment of genuinely irrepressible anger as Pat. As Doug, Peter Bisgaier is authentic, earnest, and utterly despicable, embodying the popular idea that cruelty and aggression are admirable when characterized as unfiltered honesty. And Kash Goins brings unique depth and complexity to the stage as Bill.
74 Seconds ... to Judgment is probably not going to change anyone's mind about the structural inequality in our justice system, but that is not the point. Rather than trying to gently convince those who should know better, Goins chooses to give voice to the throngs who already know all too well. The result is breathtaking. Together, Goins and Robinson have created an engaging work of power and importance. Catch it at the Arden while you can, but I would be surprised if we do not see this one produced again and again.
74 Seconds ... to Judgment, through March 3, 2019, at the Arden Theatre Company's Arcadia Stage, 40 N. Second Street, Philadelphia PA. For tickets and information, visit ardentheatre.org or contact the theatre's box office. Student, industry, and military discounts are available.