nytheatre.com review by Geeta Citygirl
August 11, 2006
Brooklyn-based playwright Christiaan Greer's Anima is a raw and disturbing play that is not for the faint of heart. Some audiences may not be able to take the pain and torture portrayed in some very powerful but violent scenes. Performed in 95 minutes without an intermission, it is a highly charged piece of work that rips apart the lives and destinies of three characters—Ella, Vlad and James.
Presented at the Gene Frankel Theatre, I was lucky to have tickets to this sold-out opening night performance. When my plus-one guest was unable to attend, I gave the ticket to a recent arrival to New York City—an aspiring actor overjoyed to join me. It was a wonderful start to kick-off the first evening of the FringeNYC festival.
Once the house lights dimmed and the show started, the audience became completely still. Deafening voices and words poured out generously from each of the actors. At once, we were hypnotized by the abusive and destructive love relationship between Ella and Vlad. Drugs, sex, power, control, and fear of the unknown are introduced as the normal daily existence in this rundown apartment setting. Into this chaos enters Ella's high school friend James, an Iraq war veteran who just needs a place to stay. We watch as his arrival creates a triangle that spirals deeper and deeper into a bloody and shocking ending.
The devoted and daring cast deserves special mention. Stunning and captivating Dorcas Evelene Davis as Ella tugs you into her world with her tremendous talent. Jason Renee Robinson as Vlad breaks your heart and simultaneously enrages you. And Geoffrey Murphy commands the stage as the distraught war veteran James.
Directed with the appropriate grittiness and pace by Emily Meisler, the struggles of these extraordinary characters seem to leap off the stage. Designer Ellie Nowak has provided the barebones set that undertakes minor changes (swiftly conducted by the actors between scenes) and suggests an already beaten-up place.