Sunday, March 8, 2015

Review: Potential in the Planted Seeds

We strive as humans to create something and have it grow into something extraordinary. Whether it be an artistic endeavor or the development of land, tending to our work helps define who we are. Through obstacle after obstacle, the devotion to the cause makes the journey worth watching. In Jeremy Cone’s potential-filled The Field, a young man takes to an empty lot and watches it grow.
Billed as a musical myth with a mix of song and spoken world, The Field follows one man’s journey to cultivate something special. Created by Jeremy Cone, The Field is a daring new piece that resonates through its central themes. It’s immensely clear that The Field is a passion project for Cone. And through the passion, Cone wears an abundance of hats, serving as writer, performer, director, and producer. Like many pieces in the early developmental stages, there are flaws. But unlike many, The Field is sprouting with potential. But to bring it to its full potential, Cone may want to step back from some of his roles in the production in exchange for new collaborators and fresh eyes. Cone’s writing is simply stunning. His poetry is brimming with innate imagery. It’s one of the areas that Cone is safest. The other place is through his spoken word. Cone has an Eminem-like monotony when he rhymes that’s full of hunger and drive. There are songs in the piece that could easily be transported to radio today where he spits the rhyme and a singer gets the chorus. But when the music disappears and Cone enters the acting world, he becomes almost lifeless and stiff. If there was a way to split the Man in the Field into two characters, the man himself, who would take on the singing and acting, and his conscious, where Cone would continue with his spoken word, it would be the best of both worlds. As it stands now, trying to mimic the Lin-Manuel Miranda formula as writer-actor-rhymer may not be in the pieces best interest. The Man in the Field is the focal point of the show and requires a well-rounded performer that excels in all the areas.
photo courtesy of Tucker Bryan
To bring The Field to life, Cone has assembled an incredible ensemble of song and soul. Jasmine Thomas is a powerhouse vocalist who’s aura goes a long way as Mother Goddess. Cone didn’t need to place her on a rehearsal cube to portray her dominance, her voice did it for her. As Harvest Woman, Rosie Sowa brings beauty and vitality to the stage. As the object of The Man in the Field’s affection, metaphorically speaking, Sowa is princess-like in demeanor with a beautiful voice. Both Thomas and Sowa’s music collaborations are some of the highlights of the show. Briana Gibson, Matthew Magrath, Clare Rea, and Dennis Williams fill the stage vocally as the ensemble. You almost wish they were given more opportunity to shine. Though Magrath’s silver-toned voice did get some extra moments in the spotlight, giving a convincing reason as to why he and Cone could potentially split the role of The Man in the Field. Julie Congress as the Storyteller and Gregory Levine were sadly lost in Cone’s mythical world. But that may be due to the script.
Though spending the majority of the time on stage, Cone served as the piece’s director. Cone relied on the audience’s imagination to create a world behind him. And surprisingly, it worked. With the less is more theory, allowing the field to become personal to each person watching, connecting in an individual way. Cone did falter a bit when it came to staging, as purpose and motivation had little value. Additionally, the paper plants on the revolving doors lost the impact of the imagination direction Cone had taken. Choreographer Emily Craver showcased only a drop of the flourishing movement that could be used in this world. Knowing that it wouldn’t detract from the words, having choreography back Cone’s spoken words would be an added touch that would tie the various aspects together. Special recognition should be given to music director and arranger Lucian Smith for the magnificent arrangements. It was simple and beautiful, blending the styles together.
You can see the stunning future production just from the seeds Cone has planted. Once The Field discovers what exactly it is and the structure is further explored and cleaned up, The Field will be beautiful and could be revolutionary.