Friday, January 27, 2017

Rose and the Rime (review)

Spoilers ahoy!

I have never felt disappointed by anything produced by Sacred Fools. High praise?  Yes, but also extra pressure.

Rose and the Rime by Nathan Allen, Chris Matthews and Jake Minton emerged from the same process that created another awesome bit of mythic theatre, Sparrow.  Regular readers of this vlog might feel clued in to the use of the world "mythic."

Yeah, this one is that good.  That (dare I say it?) magical.

"Rime" seems unfamiliar, doesn't it?  It consists of granular ice tuffs left on the windward side of objects exposed to the wind.  Without going into great detail--no matter the warning above--this word turns out especially apt.  One of the central characters emerges as The Rime Witch (Desiree Mee Jung), who holds captive the town of Radio Falls in a never-ending winter.  As the town name suggests, we have here no quasi-medieval village but what seems like a modern American small town.  Or maybe a timeless modern American small town.  Not really a contradiction.  A paradox certainly.  Certainly a piece of irony.

Immediately as the play begins, we meet Rose (Amy Rapp) who will be the heroine.  We know this because in classic fashion she befriends and talks with wild animals--just like Cinderalla, like Psyche, like many a hero in fairy tale.  Rose learns the truth of why her town never knows summer, how the Rime Witch killed her parents.  Her uncle Roger (Andy Hirsch) tells her this, and her resolution immediately grows.  A brave child is Rose, the only child in Radio Falls.  She follows the storm to seek to defeat the Rime Witch and bring summer back!

She succeeds.  You saw that coming, didn't you?  What maybe surprises is this--even though summer returns, and this happy brave child has won the witch's power, the story is nowhere near over.  For all practical purposes it now begins.


For winter must follow summer.  History repeats itself.  Inside every happiness contains the seeds of future misery, just as catastrophe brings with it hope for change and a better tomorrow.  How could it not?  At least, until we find a way to break the cycle.  There--in that idea--Rose and the Rime really sank into my bones. Preparing this review I intended to point out what looked like a weakness, a certain plot turn which seemed unjustified.  Yet the more I thought on it, the more I examined the story in greater detail, diving into implications.  That plot point proved the key to the central mystery of the whole piece.  What exactly did the characters do wrong?

They didn't tell the truth.  Not to Rose.  Not to themselves.  Nor each other.  Without that, how can they break the cycle?  How can anyone?  Will they tell the truth this time?

None of this would work without the cast, who together under the direction of Jacob Sidney created this amazing world out of a dream, a dream full of prophecy and meaning.  Upon a set designed by Hillary Baumann, they wove together a world of puppets (thank you Miles Taber) and combat (Andrew Joseph Perez) and dance (Sierra Taylor).  Everyone deserves praise for this--Brian Brennan, Corinne Choeey, Sean Faye, Aaron Mendelson, Mandi Moss, Allison Reeves, and Bart Tangredi.  This play opened on a day very hard for many of us, a day of nightmarish fears and a need for hope.  Together you gave the audience the ritual of hope, of understanding and wisdom needed in hard times.

Hopefully people will listen.

Rose and the Rime plays Friday and Saturday nights at 8pm through February 2, with 3pm matinees on Sundays February 12 and 19 at Sacred Fools Mainstage, 1076 Lillian Way (near Santa Monica and Vi ne) Hollywood CA 90038.

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