Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern

After the Revolution

Also see John's review of The Rocky Horror Show

Michael H. Small and Jackie Rivera
The Caldwell Theatre presents After the Revolution by Amy Herzog. The play is a bold and moving portrait of an American family thrown into an intergenerational tailspin, forced to reconcile a thorny and delicate legacy. In including it as one of their Top Ten Plays of 2010, The New York Times said: "Ms. Herzog's smart, engrossing play ... strikes a fresh note in being set among a family of exotic beings."

After the Revolution is the story of the brilliant young lawyer Emma Joseph, who carries the torch of her family's Marxist traditions. Her plans are to devote her promising career to a legal fund based on the memory of her late grandfather Joe. He was a liberal icon much revered for refusing to name names during the McCarthy's House Unamerican Activities Committee (HUAC) hearings. When an upcoming book, containing some historic research, reveals a shocking truth about her grandfather, Emma and her entire family are forced to confront questions of honesty, allegiance, politics and family.

Jackie Rivera gives a standout performance as Emma. She shows the multi-faceted nature of the character as a daughter petulantly dealing with feelings of deception and a grown woman dealing with the prideful pitfalls of her convictions. There is a real feeling of her coming of age in handling the disparity between the reality and the idealization of her liberal belief system. She manages the light touches of comedy in her banter with her family with a hand that diffuses the otherwise serious nature of her character. The final reconciliation scene with Gordon McConnell as Emma's father Ben is one of the truest acting moments in the show.

Nancy Barnett has an easy stage presence as comforting stepmother Mel. She and Harriet Oser, as Jo's second wife Vera, turn in performances that lead us to think we have either not seen them enough on stage, or have seen them in roles that didn't highlight their considerable acting skills. Oser goes from sweet grandmother to the keen voice of truth, though it may not be the truth Emma chooses to hear.

Scene transitions in this production are a few seconds too long when there aren't actually scenery changes. Though the plot takes place in various apartments and homes in New York and Boston, the only change made is a tablecloth for a restaurant scene. Plot clarity suffers for lack of designation of locale as everything takes place in the same living room set. This production is well directed by Ledford, however, who manages to draw out the parts of the show that are about familial relationships, the parts that are about political ideology, and the parts where the two conflict to make an interesting story.

After the Revolution will be appearing through November 20, 2011, at the Caldwell Theatre. The Caldwell Theatre Company is a professional theatre company hiring local and non-local Equity and non-Equity actors. The Caldwell Theatre Company is designated by the State of Florida as a Cultural Institution and receives funding from the State of Florida through the Florida Department of State, the Florida Arts Council and the Division of Cultural Affairs. The Caldwell Theatre Company is located in the Count De Hoernle Theatre at 7901 N. Federal Highway in Boca Raton, Florida. Performance times are Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM, and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. For information and/or tickets you may contact them by phone at 561-241-7432 or online at

Ben Joseph: Gordon McConnell*
Mel: Nancy Barnett*
Leo Joseph: Michael H. Small*
Vera Joseph: Harriet Oser*
Emma Joseph: Jackie Rivera
Miguel: Arturo Fernandez
Morty: Howard Elfman*
Waiter: Andrew Wind
Jess Joseph: Tiffany-Leigh Moskow*

Director: Margaret M. Ledford
Scenic Design: Tim Bennett
Lighting Design: Thomas Salzman
Sound Design: Thomas M. Shorrock
Costume Design: Erin Amico
Stage Manager: Robert Herrle*

*Indicates member of the Actor's Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Photo: Tim Bennett

See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere