Rise and Fall is a high-energy political satire inspired by Brecht that takes the audience on the run with Jimmy Gallagher and his band of Alaskan outlaws who stumble upon a bar that becomes his new, rule-less perfect society. But when things begin to get out of hand and the money runs out, Gallagher and the rest of the inhabitants must suffer the consequences. Blending the modern age and a whole lot of gender bending, the story is given a new perspective. And it’s weirdly fascinating. The high-speed comedy adds some folk music written by the brilliant songwriter Andrew Lynch that calls upon the themes of the play. With the structure of the play including the company calling out scene numbers and titles and Wild West comic book infused character introductions, Rise and Fall has so much going on it can become overwhelming at first. But when the exposition subsides, the story unravels to reveal something truly powerful. By masking the piece through humor and physical comedy, Rise and Fall allows the importance of the play to settle in. When you’re escorted upstairs for the trial of Jimmy, things slow down and morality takes over. And it’s certainly earned. The juxtaposition of big bawdy humor with humanity offers a strong message.
|photo by Rowen Douglas|
With Melby and Eric Powell Holm taking the directing reigns, the duo ensured that excitement was consistent. Even when moments took a turn for the truth, there was still something fun about it. They captured the immersive feeling, bringing the audience into the world as often as they could. But, like many immersive site specific works, the layout could cause some woes. They worked the space as best they can, utilizing the bar and seating area as the playing space. The use of the live music was a brilliant touch and the overall design was smartly executed. By merely using the lights of the space and the occasional clip light, there was possibility for moods and certain looks. The costumes had this country hip aura, marrying Alaskan cowboy with East Coast badass.
The writing is witty and Rise and Fall is a strong adaptation, but finding a way to come out with a bang without plowing down the audience is key. Until you finally catch up with the merry band of misfits, it’s hard to tell what’s happening. I can only imagine what happens to those who started off with a few too many, pre shot. But the premise is promising and you will certainly leave having had a great time.