Saturday, November 19, 2011

POW! (Play Of The Week)

FOUR
by Christopher Shinn

After seeing Picked at the Vineyard Theatre this spring, I was immediately drawn to Shinn’s plays. The festering underbelly in his work is quite engaging, and the actor is forced to acknowledge the haunting subtext. The task is fun, and Shinn allows for complicated, indecisive, twisted characters.

In Four, which was originally produced by the Royal Court Theatre in London and later in New York City by the Worth Street Theater Company, four characters come together under similar, but two different circumstances. One of which is between a sixteen-year-old boy and a closeted, married black man whom he met on the internet. The other is the man’s sixteen-year-old daughter and a twenty-year old drug dealer. The scene work is quite interesting and the power play between charters is lustful and complicated. The two situations are foils for one another, and Shinn keeps us engaged by switching back and forth between each rendez vous.

There are good monologues and scenes for teenage actors. However, I recommend they be in their twenties or extremely mature since the subject matter is quite jarring. The piece is perfect for colleges or audiences open to a profound, heartbreaking exploration of sexuality, secrets, trust, and what happens when obligation is lifted.

When people place themselves in such impersonal situations, we often see them unfolding and exposing themselves in ways otherwise hidden by a socially acceptable guise. We see a “festering underbelly” bubbling to the surface out of sheer ambiguity.

GREAT PLAY! BOLD AND FASCINATING!

Review by Shawn Verrier

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