Monday, November 11, 2013

PREVIEW: The Argument at Theater J

Theater J, located inside the Washington DC JCC will continue it's season with Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros' play THE ARGUMENT. The play, originally written in 2005, was rewritten by the playwright for this production to better appeal to today's audiences.

THE ARGUMENT is about "Sophie, a charming, vibrant artist, and Phillip, a loyal, solid businessman, are a 40-something couple whose new relationship is rocked when Sophie learns she is pregnant. As each fights for the only future he or she can imagine, they are both forced to recognize the profound personal differences between them. And when the word "abortion" is introduced into the debate, all bets are off.

This newly commissioned 2013 edition of The Argument chronicles the arc of a relationship with humor, passion, brutality, and up-to-the-minute relevance."

While not exactly a "new" play, it'll be very interesting to see how audiences react to a play that was altered in a hope to better serve modern audiences and whether or not it was worth the rewrite.

The play seemingly deals with very touchy issues in an almost light and comedic way. I wonder if this is the case, and if so, how this will play on stage. I think the play's concept asks some interesting, relevant questions. It now depends on execution to see how the audience answers them.

Any time the issue of abortion is brought up, whether on stage, in film, or in real life, people have very strong reactions so it will be interesting to see if this play incites these strong reactions or if people will be afraid to really speak their minds on such a sensitive subject.

Preview: CROSSING at Signature Theatre

Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA is currently presenting it's second musical of its season, a world-premiere, CROSSING. CROSSING features a book by Grace Barnes, a playwright out of NYC, and Matt Conner, a local who frequently works and collaborates with Signature.

According to the synopsis on their website, "Crossing explores the interwoven stories of eight people from different decades of the past century who come together at a train station. Some are waiting for the train, others are waiting for visitors, a few are just…waiting. All of them are searching – for hopes and dreams, for new beginnings, for answers. As their stories are brought to musical life in the train station, the characters discover that, while every life is different, the journey is always the same. With music ranging from gospel to pop to rock, Crossing unites the musical eras through the souls who lived them."

This original idea seems evocative of the themes currently invading new musical theatre, which tend towards darker, pop-rock driven scores and stories to evoke stronger reactions out of audiences. 

Although in its world premiere production, CROSSING was workshopped at Signature, so it will be interesting to see how far in its developmental process it is. Will it be rough around the edges, or give a clear, strong narrative?

DC is becoming more well-known for being an incubator city for new musicals, but it is still a theatrical form that is not extremely common in town. It will be interesting to see the audience reaction in a town used to seeing tried and true classics (like Miss Saigon and Gypsy, which book-ended CROSSING in Signature's season).

CROSSING seems to be exploring the issue of whether or not the journey or the destination is what matters most. It will be interesting to see how true this is. I'll know soon enough.