Sunday, November 4, 2012

Theater Ninjas: Marble Cities

(Thursdays-Saturdays through November 17th at the Ohio City Masonic Temple)

It's been a little while--ok a long while--since my last Theater Ninjas experience, and it is always a unique experience. This production is themed as completely as a Disney attraction. It starts by leveraging the inherent mystique of the venue, an active Masonic Temple, and caries through an interesting preshow display that seamlessly into the actual action.

Arriving at the venue Rachel and I were handed cards, "I am here because I was invited. I beg admittance to this circle. I have told no one. My motives are my own" which heightens the dramatic tension before the audience is ever seated.

While the story is not one that can be described as simple nor straight forward (and if you've seen previous work by the Ninjas this should not be of any surprise) throughout the play I found  myself questioning the characters' latent and explicit motives and the complex interrelationships among several strangers, themselves invited to this secret meeting but unaware of why they were selected reflecting on what in each characters past has lead them to today, and what will propel them beyond today...if they survive.

Through excellent and organic staging, compelling and three-dimensional acting on the part of the entire ensemble, I was engrossed in something that was for the most part something that was so real I had no problem suspending disbelief. That said, I think every actor stumbled on one line, and for each rough recovery, my suspension of disbelief was momentarily revoked and I was oh-so-briefly returned to the clutches of  the "real" world looking in from the outside, until I returned to a state of total engrossment.

I can't remember the last time my brain has been forced to think so much, let alone so deeply, about the ultimate meaning of the piece, and being left feeling so open ended. Indeed, this is a play that, while seeming to curve that direction in places, does not force one true ending on  the audience. Instead, it gives you a lot to consider before you reach your own conclusion -- or conclusions.

(Directed and Devised by Jeremy Paul; Created and preformed by David Aguila, Ray Caspio, Brittany Gaul, Ryan Lucas, Cassie Neumann, Michael Prosen, Emily Pucell and Colleen Uszak; Asistant Director Ray Caspio; Stage Manaer Katilin Kelly; Lighting Design Benjamin Gantose; Costume Design Kevenn T. Smith; Technical Director Val Kozlenko; Installation Design Joan Hargate; House Manager Cassie Goldback)

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