First up is Barker’s Judith. A retelling of the Book of Apocryphya’s heroine Judith and her physical sacrifice to general Holofernes, Barker presents his version where he suggests a struggle where Judith loves with the enemy. Barker’s piece is intense and provocative to say the least. The struggle for power and the immense sexual tension of the play furtheres the action until madness ensues. Director Richard Romagnoli takes the intimacy of the piece and glorifies it in all the right ways. Romagnoli finds the edge and grit of Baker’s script and manages to excite and arouse. The cat and mouse game between Pamela J. Gray’s Judith and Alex Draper’s Holofernes was thrillingly wonderful. With clear objectives to start, watching Gray and Draper become flippant as the situation transformed kept the audience attentive. While the battle between Judith and Holofernes may have been the meat of the piece, it was Patricia Buckley who stole the show. Buckley is nothing short of phenomenal as The Servant. Buckley balanced immense humor and wit with impeccable timing to make the third wheel of the piece the star.
|photo by Stan Barouh|
In Vinegar Tom, Churchill writes about gender and oppression through the lens of the witch hunt in England. When Alice and her mother are accused of witchcraft by their neighbors, the village explodes with accusations as mishaps occur all throughout town. Director Cheryl Faraone takes the biting play and ensures that the message is clear. Churchill’s approach is not subtle and neither is Faraone’s. She keeps things active and makes the mystery of the truth unfold in a careful manner. Her staging involved many meandering bodies around the space, peering into the action. It’s possible it was calculated but there were moments that the specific bodies felt arbitrary. While Alice may have been the focal drive of the play, it was Bill Army’s Jack and Kathleen Wise’ Margery that were simply astounding. Army and Wise had immense chemistry drawing the most sympathy for their story. Both Army and Wise brought an array of emotion, but it was Wise who pulled on the heart strings. Nesba Crenshaw as Joan, the mother of Alice and accused witch, found ways to make you believe that perhaps she does know a thing or two about witchcraft. The verbal battles between the characters within the acting company is striking to watch. Even the physical altercations are forcefully real. The only issue that arises is the plethora of dialects on stage. It’s a bit unclear as to the exact location due to the inconsistency.
|photo by Stan Barouh|
The Judith and Vinegar Tom double feature is a night of high drama. It’s best to prepare yourself before taking your seat. But once you do, you’ll be glued to the action and storytelling that PTP/NYC is known for. Just another wonderful showcase for two strong theatrical voices.