Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Review: Losing Faith

By Michael Block

In Zoe Kamil's weighty #blessed, the discussion of rape is brought to light through the lens of faith. Despite being an important topic, the play doesn't offer anything we haven't already heard in similar themed plays.  That being said, examining the story structure of Kamil's play is what sets #blessed apart. Kamil infused some stylized moments through foreshadowing testimonial flanked by a robed chorus. While it did make the endgame predictable, simply having the characters alone would have been more powerful, keeping the focus solely on the words rather than the stage picture. With the story being about an impressionable young girl being tempted by a bad boy masquerading as the embodiment of persuasion, Kamil prescribed your feelings for the character and situation. Michael is a despicable character with no redeeming qualities. In the end, you'd likely side with Liana anyway, but the story lacks interest if everything is already spelled out for you.
Overall, #blessed felt like an unfocused after school special. But that is how the material reads. Director Miranda Cornell attempted to combat this and bring some intrigue into the world but it simply wasn't enough. With the play jumping from location to location, Cornell asked her company to move the giant rehearsal cubes to create various locales. It hurt the overall pacing by having so many moving parts. Though the idea of using removable push lights to create the car was a clever touch.
This is not an easy play to act. They are thin characters tackling a difficult topic. Marcus Shacknow was the only person on the stage who knew how to create a character to care about. Shacknow gave a well-rounded performance.
The last scene between Jesus and Liana is a ten-minute play that we'd want to see. It was Zoe Kamil's strongest writing. It just came too late. #blessed is a play very much in progress.