Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Philadelphia

Inis Nua Theatre Company
Review by Rebecca Rendell

Also see Rebecca's recent reviews of Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill and Eternal Life Part 1

Garrick Vaughan and Dwayne Alistair Thomas
Photo by Ashley Smith of Wide Eyed Studios
Themes of family, love and forgiveness loom large in Hymn, a soul-stirring musical play now making its Philadelphia premiere for Inis Nua Theatre Company at the Louis Bluver Theatre in The Drake. Written by renowned British-Indian playwright and actor Lolita Chakrabarti, Hymn is a tale about the special kinship between brothers. Under Eric Carter's thoughtful direction, Dwayne Alistair Thomas and Garrick Vaughan deliver powerful vocals, joyful connection, and emotional intensity that resonates bone deep.

Hymn tells the story of two adult men who find out that they are siblings–born only six days apart–at their father's funeral. Benny loves his wife and children, but wonders how his life might have been if he had been acknowledged by his father. Gil is devastated by the loss of his father and longs to achieve the kind of success his sisters enjoy. Despite some initial confusion and skepticism, Benny and Gil embrace each other as true brothers. Together they train at the gym, belt out popular tunes from their youth, and generally try to make up for lost time. When things get difficult, the limits of their new sibling bond are sorely tested.

Thomas and Vaughan give exquisite performances as Benny and Gil. Vaughan's charm and confidence are undercut by an edge of vulnerability. Thomas' easygoing attitude suggests a more complicated soul beneath the surface. I was especially impressed by Thomas' vocal skills, but both of these actors can sing, and it is a joy to listen to them riff on popular songs from the 1980s and 1990s.

Will Brock's musical direction and Chris Sannino's excellent sound design are praise worthy. Dirk Durossette's simple but effective set design is also top-notch. Dynamic lighting designed by Andrew Cowles effectively sets the tone as the play evolves.

Inis Nua Theatre has put together an all-around superb production, and this Hymn is well worth listening to.

Inis Nua Theatre Company's Hymn runs through April 30, 2023, at The Theatres at the Drake, Louis Bluver Theatre, 302 S. Hicks Street, Philadelphia PA. Tickets are $30. For tickets and information, please call 215-454-9776 or visit

Dwayne Alistair Thomas: Benny
Garrick Vaughan: Gil

Directed: Eric Carter
Musical Direction: Will Brock
Sound Design: Chris Sannino
Set Design: Dirk Durossette
Lighting Design: Andrew Cowles
Costumes Design: Tiffany Bacon
Props Design: J. Bean Schwab