The Cardinal Group, Jeffrey Schulman and Robin Mishik-Jett
BRUTALITY OF FACT
By KEITH REDDIN
Urban Stages, 259 W. 30 St., NYC
August 17 through September 10, 2006
Directed by STEPHANIE YANKWITT
Scenic Designer JOE POWELL
Lighting Designer LILY FOSSNER
Costume Design MELANIE SWERSEY
Stage Manager RACHEL GORDON
Jackie – Amy La Duz
Maggie – Donna Robinson
Val – Joy Franz
Judy, Janet, Amy – Melissa Ross
Chris – Marshall Correro
Harold – D.H. Johnson
Corrine, Kate – Bonwen Coleman
Marlene – Paris Yates
Keith Reddin’s BRUTALITY OF FACT is a dark comedy about a dysfunctional family. Some of the situations are seemingly absurd, but work from a dramatic level where an audience can suspend disbelief willingly enough to make the antics of the characters seem plausible as presented.
At the center of the BRUTALITY, we meet two very different sisters, Jackie and Maggie, and their aging mother, Val. It is these three characters, and more specifically the chemistry and comic abilities of the actors, that are responsible for the bul of the humor. For convenience sake, the recently religious Jackie has told Val that Maggie is dead, though she is very much alive, if often inebriated. Another sister, as well as the patriarch of the family have, in fact, died, and these background events have affected the living with varying degrees of severity.
There are a few occasions in BRUTALITY when characters experience dream sequences and address the audience directly. As a device, this could be iffy, but works fairly well here. Another risky area Mr. Reddin treads upon is the apparent, inherent critique of Jehovah’s Witnesses and fundamentalist religions in general. The charcter Jackie, in converting, has alienated her husband to the point of divorce, frightened her daughter, annoyed her neighbors and concerned her immediate family. Not a pretty picture, but not an unrealistic one either, as written.
Reddin’s script is complemented by Stephanie Yankwitt’s steady direction and ability to draw some truly humorous moments from the talented ensemble cast. The design and production teams do an equally notable job of setting the stage in a limited space. All in all, this revival of BRUTALITY OF FACT feels as timely as ever, and has enough laughs to make it well worth your time.
- Kessa De Santis -