I wouldn’t call myself a very religious person. Much like 72% of us millennials, I do consider myself spiritual. While I don’t attend temple every week, I consider myself a Buddhist. Outside of weddings and funerals I usually don’t find myself inside a house of worship.
However I strangely found myself in church this past weekend when I sat down for Forum Theatre’s production of “Church.”
Up and coming Korean-American playwright Young Jean Lee penned the piece after being raised by Evangelical Christians, eventually becoming an atheist later in life. Church is Lee’s attempt to break through to today’s secular population (herself included.) In an interview with the Village Voice Lee explains, “Their attitude toward Christians seemed very ill-informed . . . it was like Christians are evil morons who are ruining our country.”
As a result Lee presents a piece that challenges but doesn’t convert and celebrates rather than parodies. Church is a take on religion unlike any other, with the entire performance done within the confines of a 65 minute church service.
(Photo: Melissa Blackall)
What we have here with Julia Cho’s “The Language Archive” is a failure to communicate. George (Mitchell Hébert) is a master linguist yet doesn’t have the words to convey the thoughts that swirl around in his head and the emotions inside his heart. His wife Mary (Nanna Ingvarsson) has been driven to tears (lots of tears) with their marriage and has resorted to hiding passive aggressive notes of “bad poetry” lamenting about the situation. Meanwhile George’s lab assistant Emma (Katie Atkinson) has feelings for her boss and struggles with the decision to tell George how she feels about him. At the center of it all are Resten (Edward Christian) and Alta (Kerri Rambow), a married couple that are the last two speakers of a dying language. George and Emma are tasked with the job of documenting the language for posterity- better said than done when the long-married couple decide to stop talking to each other.
Forum Theatre’s production of The Language Archive has a sitcom premise, but the comedy is smarter than most Heigl-esque dreck.
Photo by Melissa Blackall
Entering Caryl Churchill’s "Mad Forest" is a step back into late 80’s Europe during the final years of the Cold War. Forum Theatre sets the mood just right. Pillars with busts of Nicolae Ceaușescu, the Communist leader of Romania, loom over the action like big brother. Drab fashions and chain smoking Romanians is reminiscent of a not-too-bygone era. Director Michael Dove spares no expense to create an authentic atmosphere for the show, enlisting the help of local actor Dan Istrate, a Romanian who was there during those historic days. His consultation gives the production a clear authenticity through dialects and mannerisms. If one thing is for certain, Mad Forest will take you into the poverty, oppression, and unrest of Bucharest in 1989.
(L-R) Michael Dove, Chelsey Christensen, Maboud Ebrahimzadeh, and Cliff Williams in Forum Theatre’s Bobrauschenbergamerica (photo Melissa Blackall)
Chelsey Christensen, friend and new head of Marketing/PR for Forum Theatre, wanted me to make sure that I disclose that the performance I attended last night of Bobrauschenbergamerica was the opening night preview.
What she didn’t tell me was that she was also in the cast of the show.
Last night I walked into the Round House Theatre in Silver Spring and experienced quite the scene: a three-man woodwind/brass marching band practicing in one corner, a man dressed as a hobo clutching a small megaphone in another. A small crowd patiently waited for the house to open but there was something off. Among the normal looking audience members were individuals dressed in a style that was a blend of 50’s southern and gypsy. Chelsey spotted me and ran over and gave me a big hug. She wore a pinkish tie-dyed dress and offered me candy. She introduced herself as Phil’s girl and I just stared with a blank expression on my face until I realized she was a IN the show.
I walked to the concession stand, stepping out of the way of a roller-skating child with rainbow-striped socks. A cast member who called herself Susan struck up a conversation with me as I bought a bottle of water.
“You’re just in time for the party- have you eaten dinner yet,” she asked.
I replied that I had already ate but I will warn you that if you do attend this show hungry- you might be able to snag some free snacks but I’ll get to that later.